The GOP presidential hopefuls debated in Florida prior to the state's primary. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
(CNN) – The Republican presidential candidates seemed to distance themselves from the Bush administration's economic policies just hours after the president gave his approval to a stimulus package meant to boost the fragile U.S. economy.
During their Thursday debate, the Republican White House hopefuls faulted the president for unrestrained government spending over the last seven years.
Bush "signed into law two years in a row pork-laden bills...which are outrageous," said John McCain, who said he'd restore "fiscal discipline" to Washington.
Mitt Romney said he would "run away" from the high-spending, high-deficit record of Washington.
"They said they'd rein in spending," he said. "But somehow, every year more and more money goes in."
Mike Huckabee chimed in with a populist theme, saying the government should to pay more attention to Americans living paycheck to paycheck.
"I think people need in the president, is somebody who understands the totality of the American family, and not just the folks at the top," Huckabee said.
Rep. Ron Paul said what the country needed was a return to the "old-fashioned Republican program" of cutting taxes and reducing the size of government.
"I can't be identified with this," Paul said of the economic troubles plaguing the country. "I was waving the flag the whole time, saying, 'Slow up, slow up.'"
–CNN Associate Producer Rachel Streitfeld
I found it so funny that Mitt, Huck , Rudy ,John are all starting to steal from Ron Paul!
What do I mean? Well we have huck talking about the IRS and others bringing up China now –these were all things Ron Paul brought up in the earlier debates and the rest of the snobs would snicker and make faces .. MSNBS is a disgrace they started off asking the same question to 3 of them and then skip over Ron Paul and then when they do ask him a question it has nothing to do with what they had asked the others !!! that is not a debate !!! I used to like Tim Russert but after i have seen the way he treats Ron Paul I know him for who he really is . Nothing more than an arrogant rich MSM goon . I no longer have any respect for him or MSNBC they are no better than FOX and FOX is the lowest of the bunch .. Ron won this debate again and even on MSNMC he is winning . I just hope that the audience saw past all the smoke and mirrors and listened to the only honest candidate running – Ron Paul – I think I will give my Gov. stimulus check to Ron in May – Hi Dad !
Mitt OWNED that debate! Even though I'm a huge supporter of his, I thought it was not fair that they didn't give ROn Paul a chance. Just because there is no way he can win doesn't mean that they shouldn't give him just as much as anybody else.
Ron Paul was the only "straight talker" in this debate tonight. MOST Americans believe exactly the way he tells it. Too bad he has been derided by the press and sneered at publicly by the other Republican candidates. He may not be perfect, but he is the only Republican who tells it like it is.
Did you see Mccain crap in his pants when Ron Paul asked him about the plunge protection team. Mccain had NO clue.
This debate was a bit lack luster, Romney had good presence, Huckabee suprised me, McCain I kinda feel bad for him hes just so lost and I think he had potential, Guilianni ...."please go away", Ron Paul is the real deal gotta love that guy...appeals to the smart people and scares the hell outa the corrupt, Ill vote for Ron if hes not on the ticket as at least vp... ill vote 3rd party
Hillary has the most earmarks...pork..265....than any other person running for president...
There was most definitely a whisper of "raise taxes" that sounded remarkably like someone feeding info/answers to Mitt Romney about the Ronald Reagan/Social Security question. We TiVoed the debate and have replayed it multiple times. It does NOT sound like any of the other participants or moderators. The video is already posted on the web. Hope someone is checking this out to determine what was going on.
Wow!*********Im really impressed with the nominees of both partys.Not! Wake up America,we need to find and Independent that will work for the people and not the Elites and special interests.
I am amazed at how underwhelming it all was. It's scary that these are the options.
I used to be a republican- I asked God to forgive me for that sin-but after watching Bush spending billions on a war based on lies, I no longer want to be part of that party. Bush turned me in to a liberal. And any candidate who keeps supporting this agenda will not get my vote. I like Ron Paul.
mitt romney is the man!!! i think mitt did a wonderful job tonight! he was smart, charming and engaging best line of the night!wow best line of the night...mitt: i cant imagine the clintons back in the white house and bill having nothing to do, ouch that hurt!
It appeared Huckabee stepped back from previous comments on changing the Constitution to meet God's standards. Do we believe it?
There is a way Ron Paul can win. That is why the media is so afraid to include him and give him coverage. If they gave him the same fair coverage that they give the other candidates he would reach more people and win this election.
Now what can we do about this? Should cnn and other media be giving all candidates equal coverage? The viewers want a chance to know every candidate.
Its a little "communistic" to dictate and exclude a candidate. North Korea does this to control their people. Are we controlled by the media?
Wake up and open your eyes. Protest, write letters let them know you are awake and paying attention. Vote for Ron Paul his eyes are open.
I noticed that loud whisper of "raise taxes" just before Romney said just that, and I was surprised Chris Matthews et al didn't mention it in their discussions afterwards. I would love to know who really said it. Can't imagine it was a Romney handler or someone "feeding" hints to him, unless it was through a hidden earpiece...haha. Seriously...I thought it was very odd and wish I knew for sure where it came from!
Ron Paul is the only one of these Republicans I feel I would trust to be honest to the core.
About not being as savvy in financial matters, I don't think McCain did himself any favors by saying, "I don't know where you got that quote," when the after-debate commentators said the quote was from an article in 2005, and he made similar comments in December....just a month ago! Ooops.
Ron Paul is a bumper sticker that holds zero weight. All the internet support and this, that, and the other...for what?
-I thought this debate in stark contrast to that laughable democratic play-pen fight that happened a few days ago, and I'm an avowed progressive democrat myself. Hence, I didn't agree with much of the policy points put forward, but at least they were putting forward policies, and I got a sense of that for which each of them stood. It just goes to show you the irreparable damage that the Clinton's are doing to the democratic party. They have put the level of discourse on my side into the toilet, as usual. Well, I never voted for them in the nineties, guess I won't do it this time either.
Ron Paul was left out though, and he really needs to get more airtime in these debates because he is the only one, probably on either side, who has any sense of how an economy works. For the republicans it's all cut taxes...the economy is good, cut taxes, the economy is bad, cut taxes, the market is a bear, cut taxes, the market is booming, cut taxes. I'm still trying to figure that one out. For the democrats, it's no better – spend, spend, spend, as if the bottom to top form of economics is going to work in a global market that the Clinton's created with NAFTA. Thus, Ron Paul's ideas need to be heard, and shame on Russert and Williams for not asking him many more questions about the economy. He's the only one who knows about the effects artificially low interest rates and high deficits have on the dollar, that is, they make it plummet.
Also, who was that whispering to Romney that Regan saved social security by raising taxes? What is McCain? Who was next to him? I can't remember. That was hilarious though, because Romney had no idea whatsoever what they were talking about. That needs to be replayed on the news ad infinitum. What a snake.
I am a firm democrat, but I am interested in what these candidates have to say, so I watched the debate. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but I was appalled by how Mitt Romney answered the questions as to how he would run against Clinton and her husband. His response was so blatantly sexist & so demeaning to all woman. I can't understand how his wife is able to stand by him after that. After the debates the commentary on it from Chis Mathews was ridiculous! Acting as though it was the best response of the night. These so called 'journalist' are getting more and more unbelievable. I would agree that all these 24 news channels seem to be following in the footsteps of Fox News.
Overall, I will have to say that all these guys look like they are lying through their teeth, except for Ron Paul, he is the only one with some backbone. The rest seem to be attempting to copy aspects of the George Bush campaign, and are not succeeding. Don't you think the American public can see through the same old BS he used by now – check his approval rating and it will give you the answer. As if some family that is about to lose their home really gives a crap whether they are amending the constitution so gays can't marry. Reality check people! For so many so called 'Christians' they sure don't take much of what Jesus said to heart.
I was teetering between Romney and McCain but after tonight's debate I'm going with Romney. He's finally showing who he really is, a very successful businessman who can turn around the American economy. The rest of the pack looked tired. Giuliani kept grimacing like a beaver, Paul looked like a wild eyed conspiracy theorist, and Huckabee is way too fringe for my taste. Go Romney!
For those on here that see themselves supporting a Democrat because they are a dem or a Republican because they are a republican ask themselves what the difinition of either really is. Bush is bashed because he is a republican that has ran our nation to the brink of disaster doesn't mean that he gives republicans a bad name.
In the beginning the parties were the same, and guess what they are still the same!!! Regardless of what someone calls themselves they are this top tier of media endorsed, large corporation backed presidential hopefuls that by all rights should never even have a chance at the job. Think about it there is no difference in how a Huckabee will act and how a CLinton will act. They will stand in front of the crowd and wave and recite a speech prepared by a speech writer. None of them are capable of acting on their own. Our government is too widespread to allow one person man or woman to truly lead. But one person wants to fix that, he stands by small government and if people don't believe that can be done then they are already fooled into thinking that the government must provide for us! Well that is wrong,
We elect them, the media does not tell us who is the best person to vote for, Read Bad News by Tom Fenton, he was a CNN journalist for over 20 years. He knows who controls the media and that is why we cannot depend on them for fair coverage.
Ron Paul DOES have a chance, that's why we VOTE in this country.
Please look him up for yourself, he's the only candidate that has logic and common sense to his ideas.
He is exactly what this country needs.
That "debate" sucked! The questions sucked, the answers sucked. It seemed fake and every word pre-planned. With the exception of Ron Paul all the canidates seem fake. If I were NBC News I'd tell Brian WIlliams to put the stopwatch UP, and Tim Russert that there is a small town radio station needing a janitor somewhere.
What a difference from watching the mud fly and avoiding debating on the issues the democrats (exception John Edwards). It was nice to hear what the candidates want to bring to the table whether you agree or not instead of trashing each other and not getting your message to the voters so that we can decide.
Hillary has no record, so she has to attach someone personally in order to avoid explaining where she stands and backing it up. Obama had a real message and it was drowned out by having to defend himself and get caught up in the mire. What a total shame.
After watching this Republican debate , it is very clear that these guy's would rip Hillary Clinton apart if she is the Democrat Nominee. You can bet they have done there home work on her and all the trash in the Clinton's back yard is in one place ...........just waiting.
I am not the smartest person in the world , but i am smart enough to see that if Clinton is the Dems nominee , we will have a Republican back in the White House.
The only reason they are attacking Hillary, as someone said in another blog, is because they can beat her. Republicans will have a tough time against Senator Obama. Hold your Hillary horses for a bit...
Barack Obama '08
What is with all you Ron Paul supporters? Put your money and effort behind a real candidate that can truly win. It isnt media bias that is keeping Ron Paul behind it's that the public does not agree with him.
If he had a real message it would motivate voters to vote for him. Support Mitt or McCain. They are the only viable candidates left.