Election 2012: Republicans Debate Economy in Michigan
Presidential hopefuls make another pitch to voters
On Wednesday, Republican Presidential candidates met for the eighth debate of the 2012 primary campaign. The focus of this debate was the economy. It was held at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, and hosted by CNBC.
The eight Republicans who took the debate stage were former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, and businessman Herman Cain.
The debate began without any opening statements from the candidates. Instead, they hit the ground running to pitch their plans to stimulate the economy and address issues like the housing market crisis and the state of the auto industry.
Like in the previous debates, the candidates found themselves in heated arguments about what the country needs to stimulate the economy. One point of disagreement was Herman Cain's 9-9-9 Plan.
The 9-9-9 Plan has become a centerpiece of Cain's campaign. It calls for implementing a nine percent corporate tax, a nine percent personal income tax, and a nine percent national sales tax.
Some candidates feel like Cain's plan taxes people twice. Others think it's an unrealistic way to approach the economy. But for Cain, what's most important is getting the economy moving again.
"We must grow this economy," Cain said. "We are the biggest economy in the world, and as long as we are stagnant in terms of growth in GDP, we impact the rest of the world. We must do that."
Despite not seeing eye-to-eye on many topics, the candidates were able to find some common ground.
"I'm not prepared to raise taxes on working Americans in the middle of a recession that's this bad," Gingrich said. Shortly after that, Romney repeated the statement and added he agreed with Gingrich.
Romney also took time to address the economic challenges in Detroit, about 25 miles away from Rochester.
Romney was born in Detroit, says he understands the issues that are concerning the city. And unlike many of his opponents, he frequently addressed the condition of America's auto industry.
"I care about this state and about the auto industry like… I'd guess like no one else on this stage, having been born and raised here, watched my parents make their life here," Romney said. "I was here in the 1950s and 1960s when Detroit and Michigan was the pride of the nation. I've seen this industry and I've seen this state go through tough times."
Romney and Cain are considered two of the frontrunners for their party's nomination to run against President Barack Obama in the general election. As a result, voters are paying close attention to their ideas and plans.
Rick Perry, another leading candidate, was in the spotlight for the wrong reason on Wednesday.
The Texas governor entered the race as one of the favorites to capture the nomination. A centerpiece of his campaign has been his promise to implement a flat tax if he's elected President.
"The fact of the matter is we better have a plan in place that Americans can get their hands around," Perry said. "And that's a reason my flat tax is the only one of all of the folks -- these good folks on the stage, it balance the budget in 2020. It does the things to the regulatory climate that has to happen."
But when he went on to explain that he would further simplify government by shutting down government agencies, Perry ran into trouble.
"And I will tell you, it is three agencies of government when I get there that are gone. Commerce, Education, and the -- what's the third one there? Let's see," he stumbled.
Some of his challengers tried helping him, but Perry continued to reach for the third agency before giving up. "Commerce and, let's see. I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."
When reporters asked Perry about his mistake after the debate, he said that he was embarrassed. But he did his best to put a positive spin on it.
"I stepped in it, man," Perry said. "Yeah, it was embarrassing. Of course it was. But here's what's more important: people understand that our principles, our conservative principles, are what matter, not a litany of agencies that we need to get rid of. There are a whole bunch of them I would suggest to you need to be downsized and what have you. But it's those simple conservative principles are what people are interested in."
Despite his slip-up, Perry said he would take part in future debates. The next debate will be held on Saturday in South Carolina.
Check out the Scholastic News Kids Press Corps Blog for Kid Reporter Charlie Kadado's experience backstage at the CNBC debate!
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