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Republican hopefuls attack Obama's record in first major debate

Seven candidates for the Republican presidential display little hostility for each other, but plenty for the president.

Image: Jim Cole/AP

THE LEADING CONTENDERS for the Republican Party’s nomination to contest the 2012 Presidential Election in the United States have held their first major televised debate.

In a two-hour contest carried live on CNN, the seven candidates refrained from trying to drive wedges between themselves for the time being – instead focussing their attacks on the incumbent Democratic President, Barack Obama.

The seven included:

  • Michelle Bachmann, congresswoman from Minnesota
  • Herman Cain, an entrepreneur from Georgia
  • Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives
  • Ron Paul, congressman from Texas
  • Tim Pawlenty, former governor of Minnesota
  • Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts
  • Rick Santorum, former senator from Pennsylvania

The BBC reports that the majority of their ire was focussed at Obama’s divisive Healthcare laws, which was earmarked for repeal by each of the seven candidates.

As a result, the New York Times elaborates, much of the spotlight was on early frontrunner Mitt Romney who in Massachusetts signed a similar universal healthcare bill into law.

Five of the seven said they would support a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on a national level, with Cain arguing that marital law should be the preserve of individual states and Ron Paul saying governments should have no marriage policy.

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All seven criticised Obama’s response to the ongoing financial climate, with many condemning his behaviour as exemplary of a single-term president.

The debate was held at a university in New Hampshire, a crucial state in the Republican primaries as it is one of the first to vote.

The next major debate will be held in Iowa, traditionally the first state to choose its preferred candidate. That debate is set for August 11, with the first primaries set for early February.

Watch the debate in full at CNN.com >

Campaign fail: Newt Gingrich’s presidential run in tatters as top aides resign >

Poll: Who should be the Republican candidate in next year’s US presidential election? >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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