The Big Questions: By Mark Halperin

Illustration by Wes Duvall for TIME

Is Herman Cain for real?

Near universal condemnation of his signature 9-9-9 tax plan from economic gurus and GOP rivals has barely slowed Cain's remarkable rise in the polls. Under attack in the Las Vegas debate, Cain mostly remained cool, commanding and charming. He muffed a question, about negotiating with terrorists for hostages, that could foreshadow his eventual fate. But his gangbusters Internet fundraising--his campaign claims he is taking in a million bucks a week now--could keep him aloft.

Does Rick Perry still have a chance?

The Texas governor, having plunged in most national polls since mid-September, finally put in a...

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