20111110 republicangopdebate
Republican presidential candidates (L to R) Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Herman Cain, Rick Perry, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman field questions at a debate hosted by CNBC and the Michigan Republican Party at Oakland University on Nov. 9, 2011 in Rochester, Mich. - 

Kai Ryssdal: Let's admit right at the outset that if there was an easy answer to the European debt crisis, we wouldn't even be having this conversation. George Papandreou would still be the prime minister of Greece. Silvio Berlusconi wouldn't be in quite so much trouble.

So you can cut GOP presidential candidates some slack for their non-answers to the very first question at the CNBC debate last night. Herman Cain, Mitt Romney and Ron Paul on what they would do about Italy.

Herman Cain: We must assure that our currency is sound. Just like a dollar must be a dollar when we wake up in the morning. Just like 60 minutes is in an hour. A dollar must be a dollar.

Mitt Romney: Europe is able to take care of their own problems. We don't want to step in and try to bail out their banks, try to bail out their governments.

Ron Paul: If you don't liquidate this and clear the market, believe me, you are going to perpetuate this for a decade or two more, and that is very, very dangerous.

I'm pretty sure he's talking about liquidating the Italian economy right there -- can't be sure.

But it's not like the Democrats have any bright ideas either. Here's the Secretary of the Treasury a couple of days ago, and then his boss, with non-answers to essentially the same question.

Timothy Geithner: Again, we have a big stake in helping Europe manage through these things and we're going to do it in a way that is sensible to the American, for the American economy and the American taxpayer.

Barack Obama: If Europe isn't growing, it's going to be harder for us to do what we need to do for the American people: creating jobs, lifting up the middle class and putting our fiscal house in order. And that's why I made it clear that the United States will continue to do our part to support our European partners as they work to resolve this crisis.

Finally, Ben Bernanke, the chairman of the Fed -- appointed by a Republican, re-appointed by a Democrat -- speaking today in Rick Perry country, Fort Bliss, Texas.

Ben Bernanke: I don't think we can escape the consequences of a blowup in Europe.

There is, in all honesty, not a whole lot going on in Europe today. Greece has a new interim prime minister. The Italians managed to sell off 5 billion euros worth of bonds.

That's about it.

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal