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concord new hampshire republican primary debate 2012 The six Republican candidates for President listen to a question from Meet the Press moderator David Gregory during a debate at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on January 8. (Photo: AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Election 2012: Republicans Debate in New Hampshire

Candidates meet for two debates before primary

By Chloe Conway | null null , null

The six major Republican candidates for President were in New Hampshire this weekend to campaign and debate ahead of Tuesday's primary.

Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, and Rick Perry squared off for two debates in 12 hours. The first was held Saturday night at St. Anselm College in Manchester.

On Sunday morning, the candidates met again in Concord for a debate sponsored by NBC News and Facebook and moderated by David Gregory of Meet the Press.

Some topics that caused big discussions at the NBC Facebook debate included questions about working with someone who is against you and working together with the other party. Other topics included Iran, gay rights, poverty, and tax policies.

The economy was one of the major topics of the debate. At one point in the debate, Gregory asked Huntsman and Santorum to "name three areas where Americans will feel real pain in order to balance the budget." Neither candidate gave a clear answer and instead skirted around the exact three things they would cut.

Perry answered this question clearly later on in the event, even though he was responding to a different question. He replied he would cut the Departments of Commerce, Energy and Education. At an earlier debate, Perry stumbled when answering the same question. This time he answered successfully, and his reply was met with both applause and laughter.

When the candidates weren't talking about issues, they were going after Romney. The former Massachusetts governor won the Iowa caucus last week and is considered the frontrunner for the Republican nomination.

Gregory repeatedly asked the other candidates to comment on Romney and his record.

"What about [Romney's] record concerns you most or [disqualifies] him to be the nominee?" "Why shouldn't Governor Romney be the nominee? What is disqualifying, in your judgment?" "Do you believe Governor Romney now when he says that he is a man of constancy and that he'll stand up for conservative principles?"

The other candidates took turns criticizing Romney, and Romney found himself on the defensive.


After the debate, representatives from the candidates' campaigns, as well as Senators, congressmen, and other politicians spoke to the media in Spin Alley. This is where campaign supporters and staff "spin" what happened during the debate in their candidate's favor.

Matt Damon, a member of the Huntsman campaign (and not the actor), said that Huntsman's performance distinguished him from Romney. This will make a difference in the results on Tuesday.

"He spoke about the statistical deficit and the trust deficit in Congress and on Wall Street," Damon said. "He spoke to how he is the right person to close those gaps and bring people together."

R.C. Hammond, Gingrich's spokesman, thought the debate was a good one and that it was a win for Gingrich.

"Gingrich went out there very confidently, very comfortably explained his positions, offered solutions that were above the political fray when it came to issues of energy, issues of healthcare, and when it came to issues of the economy," Hammond said.

Although the Huntsman and Gingrich supporters seemed pleased with the debate, Ron Paul spokesperson Bob Goodman was not so happy.

"We come in here and we get three questions!" he said.

Even though Goodman was disappointed with the lack of questions directed at Paul, Goodman thought Paul did great with the ones he was asked.

"I think we will get second on Tuesday," Goodman said. "Romney would need to fall flat. I think we could get second. If we were to stay within 10 points of him it would be a win for us and a loss for him."

Romney supporter and former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu said the debate was a great one and that Romney did a great job.

"I think he did so well today that he is going to hold his lead," Sununu declared.

Former Congressman Jeb Bradley, another Romney supporter, agreed.

"I thought [Romney] did very well. And I think he is going to do well on Tuesday."


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Chloe Conway is a member of the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.

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