Presidential candidates from the U.S. Republican party traded barbs and criticized President Barack Obama as they debated jobs, health care, immigration and other issues Wednesday evening.
The nationally-televised and internet-streamed debate from California featured nine declared candidates, including the two current front runners, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.
Both men touted their records in creating jobs, saying that experience will help them create jobs better than President Obama has done. But Romney and Perry jabbed at each other as well, with each saying the other had failed to create jobs in their state as fast as previous governors.
But the hot button topic of immigration seemed to prompt a greater consensus: almost all the candidates agreed the U.S. should build a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico to block illegal immigration.
Healthcare also sparked strong reactions from all nine candidates. They each spoke out against the health reform plan Mr. Obama supported saying it is too expensive, creates regulations that limit small businesses, and kills jobs. Even Romney, who as governor passed a similar reform plan for his state, said his first task as president would be to order a waiver so states would not have to implement the health reform statutes.
The hour-and-45 minute debate was sponsored by NBC News and the website Politico. It is the first of three debates scheduled over the next three weeks.
It is also Rick Perry’s first appearance with his Republican rivals on a national stage. The governor faced particular scrutiny during the event in part because he has little experience with the on-the-spot give-and-take style of debates.
The November 6, 2012 U.S. presidential election will be the country’s 57th.