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The GOP presidential debate at the Reagan library quickly became a zinger fest between former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry. Below is the transcript of the back and forth.
ROMNEY: It’s a fine profession, and if someone were looking to say how can we restructure government, and which agency should report to which other agency, well, maybe that’s the best background. If you’re thinking about what it takes to reshape and update America’s economy, and to allow us to compete with China and other nations around the world, understanding how the economy works fundamentally is a credential I think is critical.
WILLIAMS: Governor Perry, a 30-second rebuttal. You spent your career in that fine profession of elected office. Your reaction to that?
PERRY: Well, Governor Romney left the private sector, and he did a great job of creating jobs in the private sector all around the world. But the fact is, when he moved that experience to government, he had one of the lowest job creation rates in the country. So the fact is, while he had a good private sector record, his public sector record did not match that. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in the last three months in Texas than he created in four years in Massachusetts.
WILLIAMS: Well, let’s widen this out and let’s bring in Mr. Cain on one side —
ROMNEY: Wait a second.
WILLIAMS: Go ahead. I’ll give you 30 seconds.
ROMNEY: Listen, wait a second.
WILLIAMS: We could do this all evening.
ROMNEY: States are different. Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax. Texas has a right to work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court. Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground. Those are wonderful things, but Governor Perry doesn’t believe that he created those things. If he tried to say that, well, it would be like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.
ROMNEY: Look, the reality is, there are differences. There are differences between states. I came into a state that was in real trouble — a huge budget gap, losing jobs every month. We turned it around. Three out of four years, we had unemployment rate below the national average, we ended up with4.7 percent unemployment rate. I’m proud of what we were able to do in a tough situation.
WILLIAMS: Time. Governor Perry?
PERRY: I know back and forth — Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt. ROMNEY: Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor.
PERRY: That’s not correct.
ROMNEY: Yes, that is correct.
WILLIAMS: Nice to see everybody came prepared for tonight’s conversation.