“If you want to know how a person will act in the future, look at how they've been in the past,” Perry said, turning to Romney, and said he would do a better job setting himself apart from Obama.
In turn, Romney reminded Perry that he had been chairman of Al Gore’s campaign during his previous political career as a Democrat.
The squabble between top tier candidates Romney and Perry prompted Cooper to turn to Herman Cain, asking if one of them was correct in his argument.
“No, I should be president,” Cain said. Cain also sought to differentiate his business experience from that of Romney by linking Romney's experience to Wall Street, while claiming Main Street as his territory.
The Obama campaign has taken a similar tactic, with senior campaign adviser David Axelrod saying earlier on Tuesday that Romney “really represents the Wall Street side of business.”
Although Cain and Romney have taken a mostly supportive tone in their interaction during debates—a sharp contrast to the interaction of Romney and Perry—Romney fired back by saying he has been the chief operating officer of several “mainstream” organizations, such as the Olympics, and also naming his time leading the state of Massachusetts.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich got the last word on the question when he dismissed the other candidates for the way they answered the question itself.
“Maximizing bickering is probably not the road to the White House,” Gingrich said.