MANCHESTER, N.H. — Together onstage for the first New Hampshire debate of the 2012 presidential campaign, the Republican field of candidates Monday took aim at President Obama, saying that despite trillions of dollars of spending and tax breaks, he has left the country in what one called “the Obama depression.”
From Democrats’ 2010 health care law to Mr. Obama’s energy and labor policies, Republicans said the president has gotten the economy — the biggest issue, according to voters — wrong.
“He didn’t create the recession, but he made it worse, and longer,” said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. “This president has failed. And he’s failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy going.”
The surprise news of the night was from Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, who announced she is officially in the race. Earlier, she had been exploring a run.
“As president of the United States, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare,” said the three-term House member, who has introduced legislation to end both the health care law and the new financial-regulation law Mr. Obama signed.
The repeal pledge won general approval from the rest of the field, which repeatedly ganged up on Mr. Obama, at times even passing up chances to attack each other in favor of going after the president instead.
Monday marked the first time that Mr. Romney was onstage with his fellow Republicans. He officially joined the campaign earlier this month, and polls show him leading the Republican field and the best poised to go head to head with Mr. Obama next year.
But all seven Republicans on the stage chose to focus their fire on the White House more than on each other, arguing that Mr. Obama has bungled health care, has failed to create jobs and has embraced policies that have made government bigger rather than spur the economy.
Pressed about the comment, Mr. Pawlenty ducked the question, saying that his comments were simply a “reflection of the president’s comments that he modeled” his health care plan after the program enacted in Massachusetts.
Asked about the Mr. Pawlenty’s remark, Mr. Romney repeated that his first step as president would be to repeal the president’s health care plan and grant waivers to every state that wants to opt out of the program.
“My guess is, the president is going to eat those words,” Mr. Romney said, going on to say he would be the ideal person to take the health care debate to Mr. Obama and addressed a rhetorical question at him.
“If in fact you looked at what we were doing in Massachusetts, why didn’t you give me a call?” Mr. Romney asked, saying he would have told the president that Mr. Obama’s health care plan would not work.View Entire Story
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