The buzz word was definitely “9-9-9″ in Tuesday’s Republican debate at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire that focused on economic issues.

During the debate, the catchphrase 9-9-9 was mentioned 25 times (including 16 times by the man who conceived it — Herman Cain).

“I think it’s a catchy phrase. In fact, I thought it was the price of a pizza when I first heard about it,” said Jon Huntsman, the former Utah governor and former ambassador to China.

9-9-9 has nothing to do with pizza, even though Cain is best known on the campaign trail as the former CEO of the Godfather’s Pizza chain.

It’s a tax proposal Cain is promoting as his remedy for what’s ailing the U.S. economy. It would replace the current tax code with a 9 percent corporate tax, a 9 percent income tax and a 9 percent national sales tax.

“9-9-9 will pass, and it is not the price of a pizza, because it has been well-studied and well-developed… And it will pass, Senator, because the American people want it to pass,” Cain said defending his plan after Huntsman criticized it as not feasible.

Texas Governor Rick Perry was fixated on his own plan for restoring America’s economic health.

“And let me tell you, we are sitting on this absolute treasure trove of energy in this country. And I don’t need 999. We don’t need any plan to pass Congress,” Perry said, adding that he would unveil his proposal over the next three days.

Cain’s 9-9-9 slogan may be making sense to potential Republican voters and helping him gain traction in the polls. He’s climbed to the top tier of the 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls since a surprise victory in last month’s Florida straw poll. Google search hits on 9-9-9 spiked when Cain mentioned the term during the Fox News/Google debate on Sept. 23.

Michele Bachmann — Minnesota congresswoman and former IRS attorney — saw no good in Cain’s proposal for a 9 percent sales tax. She said it would just open up another revenue stream for Congress.

“One thing I would say is, when you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details,” Bachmann said.

Under the rules spelled out at the beginning of the debate, each time a candidate was singled out by name for criticism, they would have 30 seconds to respond.

“So if you keep mentioning “999″ and Herman Cain, I’m going to have to go back to him every other question,” moderator Charlie Rose at one point reminded Rick Santorum, after the former Pennsylvania senator challenged Cain’s economic plan.