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