Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate Health Care,Retirement

Posted September 23rd, 2011 at 2:37 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The top two contenders for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination fended off accusations of changing their positions on everything from health care to Social Security during a nationally televised debate Thursday in Florida.

While nine candidate took part in the debate, the focus was on Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and Texas Governor Rick Perry.

Romney pressed Perry to explain why he initially referred to Social Security as a fraudulent and unconstitutional program that should be run by the individual states.

The pension program is an important issue in Florida, which is home to the largest proportion of elderly voters in the United States, many of whom rely on their social security checks.

Perry countered that Romney once supported expanding the health care law he introduced in Massachusetts throughout the nation, but has now changed his position since President Barack Obama won passage of a similar law that has been angrily denounced by conservative politicians.

The Texas governor also attacked his Massachusetts rival for backing Mr. Obama's education policies that provides additional federal funding to the states.

But Perry was also challenged by the other Republican candidates over a program in his state that grants college tuition to the children of illegal immigrants. Perry said opponents of the program were being heartless against children who were brought to Texas “by no fault of their own.”

Immigration is also an important issue in Florida, where there is a large Hispanic population.

The candidates also turned their fire against Mr. Obama's handling of the economy and the national debt. In addition to Perry and Romney, Thursday's debate included former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, businessman Herman Cain, Representatives Michelle Bachmann and Ron Paul, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, and former Utah governor and ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.

Recent national polls put Perry in the lead to win the Republican presidential nomination, but some surveys show Romney might fare better in a presidential campaign against President Obama.