Herman Cain defended the economic team behind his 9-9-9 tax plan but still refused to name his economic advisers.
"My advisers come from the American people," Cain said Tuesday night at a debate sponsored by Bloomberg News and the Washington Post. "I also have a number of other economists who helped me with this 9-9-9 plan. It didn't come off a pizza box."
The pizza box reference was a nod to Jon Huntsman, who earlier dismissed the plan by saying that he "thought it was a catchy phrase, in fact thought it was the price of a pizza."
Cain also specifically mentioned Rich Lowrie, the wealth management consultant he had previously cited when defending his economic team. But, as he has on previous occassions, Cain declined to name the remainder of his economic team.
Underscoring his new standing in the polls, Cain got the first question of the debate and managed to promote his 9-9-9 plan twice in the first minute. His plan would place a 9 percent tax on income and corporations and a 9 percent sales tax.
Cain's plan has come under fire from some tax analysts, who claim it would cause lower-income and middle class citizens to pay more taxes. The moderators promised they would come back to Cain's plan later in the debate, which is focusing on economic issues.
Huntsman, for his part, named his father as the type of economic adviser he would seek.
"I like the profile of my father who was a great entrepreneur. He started with nothing and built a great business," Huntsman said.
Huntsman Sr. was an entrepreneur whose company grew after creating the "clamshell" packaging for McDonald's Big Mac in the 1970s.
More campaign news from The Hill:
In GOP debate, Gingrich explodes at Democrats, Bernanke
Perry calls expanding U.S. drilling is ‘key’ to economic plan
Romney defends TARP, questions autobailouts
Cain and Romney bump heads on economic plans
Christie endorses Romney, underscores front-runner status