This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," December 12, 2011. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: It was a Saturday night showdown in Iowa as the Republican presidential candidates faced off in what was the most watched debate to date. And with the clock ticking ahead of next month's caucuses, it was critical moment for many of the campaigns. Among those attempting to win the support of voter was former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP/ABC NEWS)
FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY, R-MASS.: I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works. And I believe that for Americans to say goodbye to President Obama and elect a Republican, they need confidence that the person they are electing knows how to make this economy work again and create jobs for the American middle class.
HANNITY: And frontrunner Newt Gingrich took exception to Romney's attempt to cast himself as an outsider. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP/ABC NEWS)
NEWT GINGRICH , R-FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: Let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994.
ROMNEY: Wait a second. Wait a second.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. But the most talked about moment of the night came during a heated exchange between Governor Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry on healthcare. Take a look at this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RICK PERRY, R-TEXAS: I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend.
ROMNEY: You know what? You've raised that before, Rick and...
PERRY: It was true then. It's true now.
ROMNEY: Rick, I will tell you what, $10,000, $10,000 bet?
PERRY: I'm not in the betting business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HANNITY: All right. That $10,000 bet has been called a gaffe by many today who are arguing that this is an example of Governor Romney being out of touch.
And joining me now in Atlanta with analysis of the debate, former presidential candidate Herman Cain. Herman, how are you?
HERMAN CAIN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Hello, Sean. I'm doing great. Thank you.
HANNITY: All right. You were not there for this one. I think it took a little out of it. I wanted to hear 9-9-9 again, but Michele Bachmann gave you some shout-outs at the debate.
In all seriousness, I was watching this, I didn't even take note of it. They were both smiling. It was a fun moment. Light hearted moment. And then I'm watching the spin right after the debate, that was the biggest gaffe in the world. Oh, this is ridiculous. I wanted to get your reaction.
CAIN: Sean, I agree with you. There were no winners in that debate Saturday night. The public lost because they didn't learn a lot. I don't think that that was all that big of a gaffe. This is typical of what has happened throughout this campaign. Soon as the media finds something that they consider to be a gaffe -- they ignored everything else that Governor Romney said. I am not trying to defend him, but I believe that he meant it in jovial, funny exchange kind of a way. It became the talk of the debate when in fact it was not.
Sean, the American people are hungry for specific solutions. And they didn't hear a lot of specific solutions on Saturday night. And that's why a lot of people again are very, very frustrated. So, I don't think that that was the gaffe of the century.
HANNITY: And then there is this moment where now, everybody in the media knows the status, the marital status of everybody on the stage. So then they ask this question about fidelity and marriage. And then they go to everybody and then Newt. And you know what happened behind the scenes. You have a bunch of arrogant, executive producers behind the scenes.
HANNITY: That is what we'll do. And then we'll go to Newt last and we'll show a picture of him reacting to everybody else. And don't forget to get shots in of his wife, so we can try for maximum humiliation and see if we can't jar up this debate.
Is that a typical -- and by the way, the very thing they did not do to Obama. That is what stood out in my mind.
CAIN: You are absolutely right. It was intended to be a precursor to how the liberal media and the Democrats will go after Newt if he gets the nomination. If Romney gets the nomination, they are going to go after him on flip-flop. They are already sharpening their knives. That was as obvious to a lot of people like it was to you and me in order to kind of bring up this whole thing. Now, it also, Sean, was somewhat of a slap at these false accusations against me. So, even though they did not call me by name, you know that the reason they brought this up was because of Newt's past personal history. The American people are saying, we are interested in a leader, we're interested in solutions. Which is why as you know I did so well up until the character assassination took place.
But I agree with you. That was intentionally set up that way in order to kind of put Newt in the barrel of the gun as the last person they raised this question.
HANNITY: You know, a lot of rumors out there swirling today, and I'm sure you heard them, that Herman Cain will make an endorsement as early as tomorrow.
CAIN: No, he will not.
I have a process going on, Sean, that is going to take a little bit more time than I originally thought.
HANNITY: You mean the media got it wrong again?
CAIN: They got it wrong again. Go figure! No. They keep trying to jump the gun. But worse, they are trying to put words in my mouth. And you know, no one is going to put words in my mouth. Not at all. So no, that is not an eminent endorsement.
HANNITY: All right. Now, the last big debate now before we start in the Iowa caucuses is this Thursday. On this network.
HANNITY: How important is this? What would you like to see out of this debate from not only the front-runners but Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Huntsman if he is in it, I guess he is not going to be in it, and Rick Santorum. What do you advise Romney and Newt in particular because they're the frontrunner at this point?
CAIN: Here is what I would advise them to do if they were to listen to me. First of all, the American people want to hear what specifically will you do in order to turn this economy around? What specifically would you do for regulatory reform? Give me some specific ideas as to what you would do for energy independence. That is what the American people want to hear. At that debate last Saturday night, Sean, the two biggest revelations weren't even reported on. And that was Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachmann made the statement we need to throw out the tax code. Who said that first? I did. I'm glad that they finally have gotten to that point. Whereas the others, they still a wrestling with how they're going to reform this messed up 82,000 (ph) page tax code. So, number one, they need to be as specific as possible about their specific solutions.
Secondly, if it were me, everybody ought to be contrasting what they would do with Barack Obama. That is who we are trying to defeat as conservatives. They keep going after each other. And the attack night at the presidential debate isn't what the American people are interested in. Maybe the political class likes this kind of stuff, but I can tell you, the American people, they are sick of that. How will your ideas contrast with President Obama and for some of the specific things you are going to try to do to get this economy going? Because you know, we got have 14 million people unemployed.
HANNITY: All right. And no specific time frame. The media got it wrong. Herman Cain will not be announcing tomorrow or this week an endorsement.
CAIN: No, he will not.
HANNITY: Amazing. You know, I hear all this information, this chatter coming out everywhere. And I'm thinking, wow, Herman Cain is going to make an endorsement. I'll ask him tonight to give us a preview.
CAIN: Well, you said the operative word. "Chatter." That's all it is. Chatter.
HANNITY: All right.
CAIN: Thanks for having me on.
HANNITY: Thanks for being with us.
CAIN: Thank you.
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