Pawlenty And Bachmann Battle In GOP Debate
Republican candidates for the U.S. presidency traded barbs over their records and past statements in a firey debate just ahead of the Iowa straw poll. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty ripped into each other, wiping away the image of politeness that had existed among the candidates.
With questions over their respective records in the state of Minnesota, journalist and moderator Chris Wallace got Pawlenty and Bachmann to take shots at one another. At times, it got heated.
Pawlenty, an underdog in the election, attacked Bachmann’s congressional record of accomplishments, referring to it as “non-existent.” This was similar to a previous accusation that her record can be seen in the stream of “failed amendments” she’s proposed, according to Politifact.
Bachmann, who is considered the first-runner-up in the campaign so far, laid into Pawlenty, comparing him to President Barack Obama because, she said, he supported cap-and-trade and the individual mandate in healthcare reform as governor of Minnesota.
Pawlenty said Bachmann has a record of misstating facts, and this was just another example, again going after her record of supporting amendments that failed to pass. “If that’s your idea of effective leadership, please stop, because you’re killing us,” he said.
Bachmann and Pawlenty repeatedly took Wallace’s bait. Moderators asked about a tax hike on cigarettes that passed under Pawlenty's watch as governor. Bachmann said she voted supported the tax hike on cigarettes in order to avoid stripping away a pro-life protection. “The governor put us in that box, and I chose life,” she said.
Talking Points Memo has a thorough explanation of the cigarette tax issue.
Rick Santorum complained about not getting a chance to speak while Pawlenty and Bachmann drilled into each other.
There were other heated moments. After journalist Chris Wallace asked former House speaker Newt Gingrich about the mass exodus of aides from his campaign staff, Gingrich attacked Wallace for asking “gotcha” questions.
Current perceived front-runner Mitt Romney attempted to take the high road while others battled. He took a less-than hardline position on illegal immigration, saying, “I want the best and brightest” to come to this country and innovate and create jobs. “We love legal immigration,” he said.
Wallace asked about Romney’s stint as the chief of Bain Capital, which sometimes took over failing companies and subsequently gutted them. Romney shot back, saying he and Herman Cain were the only candidates who had experience running business and understand how the "real economy" works. If Americans want someone with business experience, he said, it’s between him and Cain. Cain, the former CEO of Godfather's Pizza, is polling in the low single digits.
Romney continued to tout his record as the governor of Massachusetts and the fact his state was able to get a credit upgrade from Standard & Poor’s, contrasting it with the recent downgrade the rating agency -- one of the three majors -- gave the U.S. government last week.
Romney stood by his claims that he would never support tax increases to decrease the national debt. He shot down claims that he had spoken approvingly of a state tax hike pass by state Democrats.
When asked how they would respond to a proposal to balance the budget with a 10-to-one ratio of spending cuts to tax hikes, all the candidates raised their hands to say they would reject such a deal.
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