At Orlando Debate, Republican Presidential Contenders Make Obama the Target

In the third debate in three weeks, Republican presidential candidates set their sights on the president's handling of the economy rather than on each other.

Posted: 09/22/2011 11:10 PM EDT

The opening moments of the Republican presidential campaign debate in Orlando, Florida, on Thursday were decidedly less heated that those of the past two weeks.

 

Instead of trading barbs with each other, candidates hooked in to President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy.

 

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney criticized Democrats for taking a Robin Hood-like approach to the ailing economy. "The president's party wants to take from some people and give to others. That isn't the way to lift America," Romney said.

 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry lauded his state for ranking first in the country for the past five years in attracting new businesses. "Something special happened there ... and we plan to keep it that way," he said.

 

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota spoke her piece to a questioner, "You should get to keep every dollar you earn," she said, then quickly backpedaled, “Obviously we have to give money back to the government so we can run the government."

 

A meeting of Republican and Democrat ideals almost came to fruition in the form of Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Without saying outright, Gingrich endorsed one of the elements to the president’s job proposals. "I believe it is fundamentally wrong to give people money for 99 weeks for doing nothing,” he said, when asked if he would renew unemployment benefits for those out of work. He added that they should be required to participate in a “business led” job training program.

 

President Obama has asked Congress to extend the current system of unemployment benefits. Obama also wants to allow states to experiment with the type of job training program used in Georgia, Gingrich’s home state, the AP reports.

 

 

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