09.22.11 8:26 PM ET
GOP Presidential Debate: Full Coverage
Romney Bests Perry
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney squeaked out ahead of Texas Gov. Rick Perry in Thursday night’s Fox News / Google Republican debate. The debate questions were mainly aimed toward the two frontrunners, while the other candidates tried to stay alive with retorts and zingers. Romney and Perry took things to a new level by attack each other’s books, each claiming the other had swayed from the words in their books. Bachmann tried to backtrack from her controversial comments that the HPV vaccine caused a young girl to become mentally retarded and blame Perry for being in pharmaceutical companies’ pockets. For the most part, the candidates stuck their positions and left few in audience’s opinions changed. The debate’s newcomer, Gary Johnson, having just cracked the 1 percent support threshold, got one of the biggest responses of the night with the joke that “the next-door neighbor’s two dogs have created more shovel-ready jobs than this current administration.”
Debate Kicks Off With Economy Questions
The Republican candidates took on the economy at the beginning of Google / Fox News debate Thursday night. The candidates launched straight into questions with no openings, as Gov. Rick Perry touted his “Texas miracle” and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney repeated his “59-point Economic Plan.” “I want everyone in America to be rich,” Romney proclaimed, refusing to put a number value on what constitutes a wealthy person. Bachmann, meanwhile, said she believed that “for every dollar you own, you should get to keep that dollar,” and that the best decisions are made by “private solutions to the public sector.” Meanwhile, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he wanted to abolish public sector unions and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he wanted to abolish unemployment compensation because “people should not get money for doing nothing.” But the heavy cheers came for Texas Rep. Ron Paul’s response about how he would veto any bill that violates the Tenth Amendment.
Watch Ron Paul Take Down the Tenth Amendment
Romney-Perry Feud Heats Up
The feud between frontrunners Mitt Romney and Rick Perry picked up steam at Thursday night’s Fox News / Google debate, as they attacked each other’s positions about Social Security and healthcare. Perry insisted Americans wouldn’t have to worry about their Social Security benefits while he is in office, but Romney attacked Perry’s claim that Social Security is “unconstitutional” and that it should be turned over to the states to manage. Perry tried to evade the question by attacking Romney’s healthcare plan in Massachusetts, only to Romney to accuse Perry of “retreating from your own words in your own book, but you can’t make me retreat from my own words in my own book.” But Romney himself backed away from using the popular Republican insult lobbied at President Obama, that he is a “socialist,” instead saying that
Watch Perry on Social Security
Johnson Kicks Off Education Bashing
The Republican candidates wasted no time in Thursday’s Fox News / Google debate attacking the Department of Education. Newcomer Gary Johnson kicked off the round of the bashing by saying the Department of Education is the one part of the federal government that he would abolish. Texas Gov. Rick Perry attacked former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney’s recent praise of President Obama’s “Race to the Top” program, which is generally considered one of the president’s most conservative policies. Romney retorted by saying “nice try,” saying he agreed with Education Secretary Arne Duncan’s claim that teachers need to be evaluated individually, but that Romney will instead fight for local control. Pizza magnet Herman Cain went on the extreme, saying that he wants to “get the government out of educating our kids.”
Wath Romney on Whether Obama Is a Socialist
Perry Takes More Hits on Texas Dream Act
The Republican presidential candidates rallied together on illegal immigration to attack Rick Perry’s support of the Texas Dream Act, which allowed children of illegal immigrants to be educated at state universities with in-state tuition. “It’s an argument I just can’t follow,” said Mitt Romney about Perry’s rationale for the law. But Perry fought back against the attacks, saying “every day, I have Texans on that border that are doing their job. But if you’re saying we should not educate children who have come into our state who have been brought there through no fault of their own, then you don’t have a heart.” On foreign policy, the moderators tried to bring the candidates to the hot-button issues facing the United Nations General Assembly meeting this week, prompting all the candidates to pledge their support to Israel and attack President Obama’s position with the Middle East. Although the question did not come around to Rick Santorum or Jon Huntsman, both candidates took jumped in to respond. Huntsman, the former ambassador to China, pushed his diplomatic experience and said “we don’t have a foreign policy” and he said that after 10 years of war, Americans are ready to bring the troops home.
Watch Santorum Take on Immigration
Perry and Romney Attack Each Other's Books
They might not be so wild about the current Department of Education, but Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have certainly done their own homework before Thursday night’s Fox News/Google Republican debate. Similar to a college debate, Perry and Romney repeatedly attacked the other’s books, and both claimed that their opponents have strayed from their book’s arguments. Romney kicked off the book-bashing by trying to get Perry to explain his argument in his book that Social Security is unconstitutional. “It’s fine for you to retreat from your own words in your own book, but you can’t make me retreat from my own words in my own book,” Romney said. But Perry was prepared, accusing Romney of removing a passage from the hard copy edition of his book that said the Massachusetts health-care program was what Americans needed. “So speaking of not getting it straight in your book, sir,” Perry said to cheers.
Perry Attacks Romney’s Health Care Program, Bachmann tries to reframe HPV argument.
Rick Perry attacked Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health care program during Thursday’s Fox News / Google debate, while Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann tried to reframe her controversial comments after the last debate about the HPV vaccine. Pizza magnet Herman Cain kicked off the basing of President Obama’s health care plan with his claim that he would have died from colon and liver cancer. Romney tried hard to establish the difference between Massachusetts’ universal health care program and Obama’s health care program, but Perry hit back with an attack that Romney had omitted a line from Romney’s book saying Americans need a health care plan similar to Massachusetts’. Meanwhile, Bachmann tried to recover from her claim after the last debate that HPV caused a young girl to become mentally retarded by attacking Perry for being in the pharmaceutical company’s pocket. Perry said he had been lobbied by a young woman with cervical cancer, and said “if I erred, I erred on the side of life and I will always err on the side of life.”
Watch Bachmann on HPV...Again
The Woman Who Inspired Perry’s HPV Stance
Texas Gov. Rick Perry has taken flak from his Republican opponents about his controversial HPV vaccine policy, but there’s a deeply personal story behind his initiative. At Thursday’s Republican debate, Perry said he came up with his vaccination policy after being lobbied by a young woman. That woman is Heather Burcham, a schoolteacher from Houston, whose cervical cancer was first misdiagnosed when she was 26 and eventually became fatal, leading to her death five years later in 2007. Burcham became an activist for the vaccine, which prevents HPV, the sexually transmitted disease that causes cervical cancer. Perry and Burcham became unlikely friends due to her activism, and Perry even left the campaign trail to visit her on her death bed. At her memorial service, Perry credited her life has having a purpose: “To shine a light on a groundbreaking vaccine that can protect our wives, sisters, daughters from a deadly cancer.”
Most GOP Candidates Refuse to Pick VP
Awkward. In the wildcard question, the GOP candidates were asked which of the current candidates they would pick as their running mate, but most of them refused to answer the question. The debate’s newcomer, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, answered first, saying he would choose Texas Rep. Ron Paul because “he is about liberty and freedom.” Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said he would chose former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, but things got awkward when the question went to Gingrich, who said “I will disappoint those people in the audience who think this is a Hollywood game” and refused to answer. The rest of the candidates, except Cain, followed suit, refusing to pick, although moderator Chris Wallace called Romney out for saying he would take any of the candidates over President Obama, especially when Romney called Perry “unelectable” recently.
Watch Pick Your VP