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candidates at 2011 iowa gop debate From left, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Jon Huntsman, and Newt Gingrich are seen during the Iowa GOP/Fox News Debate in Ames, Iowa, Thursday, Aug. 11, 2011. (Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP Images)

Election 2012: Republicans Clash in Iowa Debate

Eight GOP candidates for President make their case ahead of straw poll

By Alysa Goethe | null null , null
Kid Reporter Alysa Goethe with Herman Cain (top) and Rick Santorum after the debate in Ames, Iowa, on August 11. (Photos courtesy Alysa Goethe)
Kid Reporter Alysa Goethe with Herman Cain (top) and Rick Santorum after the debate in Ames, Iowa, on August 11. (Photos courtesy Alysa Goethe)

On Thursday, eight Republican candidates hoping to run as their party's nominee for President squared off in a debate in Ames, Iowa. Candidates Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrinch, Mitt Romney, and Jon Huntsman were all in attendance for the debate, which was sponsored by Fox News, the Washington Examiner, and the Iowa Republican Party.

The debate was held two days before the Ames Straw Poll, and it gave Iowa voters a chance to hear where the candidates stood on numerous issues.

One of the hottest topics of the night was the economy.

Many of the candidates disagreed on how to stimulate economic growth and get the country out of debt. But they all agreed that the country needed a change from President Barack Obama's policies.

"If you spend your life in the private sector, you understand what President Obama has done is the complete opposite of what needs to be done," Mitt Romney said. Romney is the former Governor of Massachusetts and ran for President in 2008.

Candidate Herman Cain was the only one on stage who was not a politician. Cain is the former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Godfather's Pizza. During the debate, he cited his experience as the head of a company as a reason why he should be the Republican nominee for President.

"It is clear from the discussion tonight that America needs a leader and a uniter," Cain said. "I represent growth. All the issues that we talk about, if we don't get this economic engine moving by putting fuel in the engine, all the rest of it won't matter."

"The rest of it" referred to the other issues debated by the candidates. These included the war in Afghanistan, education, and social issues. And like on the issue of the economy, many of the candidates disagreed with each other.

Former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann had many heated arguments about several issues. Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Texas congressman Ron Paul also disagreed about the war in Afghanistan and national defense.

But where all the candidates could agree is that there are things about the direction of the country that they will change if they are elected President.

"Repealing Obamacare and balancing the budget with a balanced budget amendment" would be Santorum's highest priority as President, he told the Kids Press Corps.

Cain said that his top two priorities if elected would be national security and the economy.

"We need to clarify why we are in these countries where we are fighting wars. National security is job one," Cain told the Kids Press Corps. "Number two, get this economy going. And that's where I would basically try to implement my economic vision that I have laid out to boost this economy in the first 90 days by lowering taxes on repatriated profits, lowering taxes on income, and getting rid of the capital gains tax, and then making them permanent."

The debate and the straw poll made Iowa the center of the political universe this weekend. The state will take center stage in February when the first caucus takes place. Iowa is the first state to hold its caucus and it sets the stage for who will become the Republican nominee for President.

Check out Kid Reporter Elena Hildebrandt's report from the Ames Straw Poll in Ames, Iowa, held two days after the GOP debate.


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