After eight debates, the GOP hopefuls get personal in Vegas

Mitt, Rick, Herman, Newt, Michele, Ron and the other Rick lined up for the eighth Republican presidential debate, this time without Jon and Gary. And things got personal between Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.).

The Republicans running for the 2012 presidential nomination called each other by their first names more than two dozen times Tuesday night in Las Vegas.

Romney led the night in getting friendly with his fellow candidates. “Rick again, Rick, I’m speaking,” he said to first Perry and then Santorum when trying to rebut accusations.


Santorum and Perry continued the personal tone in the otherwise fiery debate. Santorum told Romney, “You just don’t have credibility, Mitt,” on repealing President Obama’s healthcare law. 

On immigration Perry said, “Mitt you lose all of your standing from my perspective.”

Other candidates also got the first-name treatment. Praising Herman Cain’s willingness to tackle tax reform, Romney said, “I like your chutzpah on this, Herman.” And on Cain's 9-9-9 plan, Perry added, “Herman, I love you brother” before attacking the 9 percent sales tax.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson did not attend the debate; Huntsman is boycotting Nevada events after the state moved its primary date, jeopardizing New Hampshire's first-in-the-nation primary status, and Johnson was not invited to participate due to low poll numbers.

The familiar tone was not limited to the men on stage. Although she often referred to candidates by their titles, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann got the first-name treatment from Santorum when he was talking about flaws in Cain’s 9-9-9 plan.

“As Michele said, a value added tax” is hidden in the corporate tax, Santorum said.

And the candidates were not the only ones on a first-name basis: Romney appealed to CNN's Anderson Cooper enforce the rules of the debate with a simple "Anderson" — as candidates almost always do.