Seven rivals for the 2012 Republican nomination took to the stage in New Hampshire for a debate tonight, but their focus was on attacking President Obama, not trying to score points off each other. Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Michele Bachmann—who announced her candidacy during the debate—did little to emphasize their differences, generally passing up opportunities to criticize each other, the Washington Post finds.
- Tim Pawlenty: He labeled Obama a "declinist" who views America "as one of equals around the world," rather than a special nation. He backed the idea of right-to-work laws to make unions voluntary (to strong applause). "We don't have a government tell us what organizations and association we should be in." He sidestepped his recent criticism of Romney: "My using "Obamneycare" was a reflection of the president's comments," he said, referring to a word he used in a Sunday interview.
- Mitt Romney: He stressed his experience as a businessman and again called the auto bailout a mistake. "Any one of the people on this stage would be a better president than President Obama," Romney said. "This is the first time we’ve had a president that doesn’t have a foreign policy.” At one point, Romney noted that the Bruins were leading the Canucks 4-0.
- Newt Gingrich: "When 14 million Americans are out of work we need a new president to end the Obama Depression," he said, labeling the administration an "anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American-energy destructive force."
- Herman Cain: He called for eliminating the capital gains tax as a way to stimulate job creation. He bluntly told one questioner he was unlikely ever to receive any benefit from the money he has paid in through payroll taxes during his working life.
- Rick Santorum: He criticized the financial bailout that Presidents George W. Bush and Obama backed, and he accused Obama of pursuing "oppressive policies" that have shackled the economy.
- Ron Paul: "As long as we are running a program that deliberately weakens our currency, our jobs will go overseas. And that's what's happening," he argued, saying that he couldn't think of a single thing Obama has done right on the economy. On ending the Afghan war (differing from Romney): "I wouldn't wait for my generals," he said. "I'm the commander in chief. I tell the generals what to do."
(Read more Rick Santorum 2012