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
Ron Paul gives me hope.
Ron Paul is the only man that will serve the people. The disgusting NBC coverage, or lack thereof, is proof positive that BIG business, CORPORATIONS and THE MONEY GRUBBING ELITE who have taken control of this country fear RON PAUL.
Wake up people. His economic policies and foreign policies are the only ones that restore our country to its original intent and purpose.
Printing more money, rebate checks... we will go down as a country, while the elite continue to profit.
Ron Paul is the SAVIOR for this country.
The coverage of him was undeniably DISGUSTING on the part of NBC. Look into it people. Why are they trying to silence him.
Check out the MSNBC poll on who people think ACTUALLY won the debate, not what NBC analysts feed you.
Watch out for Ron Paul. He wants tax breaks for the wealthy. I mean, look at his record:
He sponsored a bill to exclude Social Security income from taxable income – So all those rich retired people on fixed incomes can afford their medication...shame on him.
He also sponsored a bill to exclude tips from taxable income. He's obviously pandering to the wealthy waitress and bartender lobby.
Hey, wait...didn't he also vote against the Iraq war and the PATRIOT act?
Wake up people!
I haven't had a chance to see the debate yet, but Ron Paul has been the real deal all along. He reminds me of a line from a movie, "Once you've heard the truth, everything else is just cheap whiskey."
What he is saying is more important than who wins this election. I plan to vote for him here (CA) on Feb. 5, and if he is not the GOP nominee, I will write him in in November.
It is McCain the Democrats are afraid of.
WHAT HAPPENED TO MY COMMENT CNN?
THE MSNBC DEBATE RESULTS:
MITT ROMNEY 41%
RON PAUL 40%
LOOK AT THAT TICKET. A WINNER.
A good and civil debate. I found Romney to be a yawn, but everyone else seemed to help their causes. I even supported Romney earlier in this campaign–he's just become the politician's politician. Running a country is far more than running a business–this nation has tons of issues that have nothing to do with money.
Ron Paul ain't terrible, though his cut-and-run humanitarian disaster plan keeps him effectively out of this race. If he wasn't so intent on that he'd be a perfectly viable candidate, as the rest of his domestic policies are decent. Too bad.
Gimme Huckabee or McCain (preferably Huck). Giuliani is a militaristic democrat, as much a friend to abortion-rights and gay-rights groups as Hillary or Obama.
on the name of Hillary the Republican will united and win.
Vote Obama or Edwards
Go Ron Paul!!!
Ron Paul is truly the right choice!
The more I see of Mitt Romney the more I see myself warming up to him.
McCain is too extreme
I would rather watched paint dry than watch your GOP debate again.....how awful!!!!
How can the GOP justify spending 11 billion a month on this WAR ....
Our nation debt is 9 TRILLON DOLLARS... Are you kidding me ????
Our ECONOMY is in a NOSEDIVE …
SAME OLE SAME OLE….
SPEND HAPPY REPUBLICANS….
All they want to do is SPEND spend spendddddd and BORROW from China …
WE ARE TIRED OF IT ….
They look like a bunch of "undertakers". Where is the diversity???
Bush economic policies --What is that, some kind of a sick joke. Flooding the richest 5% with more and more loot, and ignoring the other 95%. I would not call that an economic policy.
Republicans in last nights debate are striking Hillary prematurely, but mention nothing about a challenge with Obama. Hmmmmm, who do you think they fear most?
Why is no one reporting on Ron Paul's question to Mccain? He all but got Mccain to admit that the Fed isn't necessary.
Did anyone think running questions into the debate from Democratic presidential nominee was dirty pool? Let's see if it happens on Democratic debates.
At least this time they identified the questioners. Last time, they tired to ring in some one-sided questions meant to take the Reps down without letting them know it was a setup. But of course, once more the Internet rode to the rescue identifying the questioners.
How much dishonesty do we have to put up with from the media?
Oops, I take that back. The NY Times today endorsed CLINTON and McCAIN.
So if these two guys get the nomination, can't you use see the consternation at the editorial board of the NY Times as they TRY so hard to decide which of the two they will support.
Wow. CLinton the Democrat or McCain the Republican. I can't wait to see how that one comes out.
Here's your sign "S"
Returning my six hundred sort of caps "W"'s term, is that buying my vote?He's got big ones !
why not suspend all Government Taxes on fuel for one year that will stimulate the economy !
MITT ROMNEY IS THE ONLY PERSON ELIGIBLE FOR THE WHITE HOUSE. ALL THE REST WERE ACTING LIKE "JOKERS" SPECIALLY RUDY GIULIANI AND JOHN McCAIN.
HOWEVER, AMERICA MUST LISTEN TO WHAT RON PAUL IS SAYING. HIS MESSAGE IS CORRENT HOWEVER IT IS COMING FROM THE WRONG MESSAGER.
A REPUBLICAN FROM FLORIDA
There all wearing black suits except mitts wearing a blue one. Shows you their frame of minds. Black suits can look nice but they do get boring when your seen wearing the same color relentlessly. Fire the tailors and bring on some brightness to this doom and gloom bunch of elfs.
After the debate last night and all the debates, for that matter, it's no wonder the media is affraid of Ron Paul. They asked him 6 questions and he won the debate. I've always observed that he's the only one to give straight answers, only to be ridiculed by the Emcee or other the other candidates, because he's right.
It's no wonder the media is trying to snowball him.
Ron Paul in "08
Cristina wrote: " Big Brother is supposed to be the democrats watching. Anymore, I feel like the republicans are the ones with there nose in my business for the sake of national…spending…on private contracts that benefit someone in the administration."
I hate to tell you cristina, but as a registered independent that has voted for several GOP, it does not even matter who is in office anymore. they are controlled by the international bankers and corporations. and they will all keep the big government going. it's just a question of do you want to drive toward the cliff at 70 mph or 40 mph? because that is where we are going. looks like the only candidate making any sense right now is Ron Paul. at least he would adhere to the Constitution and takes on the Federal Reserve (who has robbed this country for too long now) and strip down government.
Weren't these guys praising Bush's tax cut economy 3 weeks ago?
Sam, if you believe there is no media bias toward him then you would probably think that the Enron folks did nothing wrong. who do you think controls the media? do you know how long ago the main stream media was taken over by the elites (hint: think early Rockefellers and Morgans)? all these other candidates are CFR or have deals with the elites (corporations/bankers). Ron Paul does not so they want to ignore him. when that doesn't work they attack.