Republican Presidential Hopefuls Debate ahead of First Primary

Posted January 8th, 2012 at 11:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Two days before the first primary election in the United States, the six major candidates for the Republican presidential nomination gathered Sunday for the second debate in as many days.

All the candidates have been seeking to brandish their conservative credentials against the more liberal President Barack Obama. And during Sunday's debate in the northeastern state of New Hampshire where Tuesday's primary is taking place, the conservatism of former governor Mitt Romney was questioned.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Romney a “timid moderate” and not a true conservative, adding that Romney would have “a very hard time getting elected.”

During Sunday's debate, Romney defended his conservative record, while calling for the government to cut spending and not raise taxes, as he said President Obama is urging. Romney was repeating a common Republican Party theme.

Romney remains a favorite to win in New Hampshire, leaving much of the attention focused on who will be the runner-up. Texas Congressman Ron Paul and former senator Rick Santorum are seen as battling for second place. Romney narrowly defeated Santorum in last week's Iowa caucuses.

Romney over the past several months has come under attack for his previous career running a private investment firm where he made millions of dollars. Many people say the firm laid off hundreds of employees from companies it bought, while making large profits for the investors.

Much of the political debate leading up to the New Hampshire primary has been focused on the need to create jobs in order to reduce unemployment.

Two other major contenders for the Republican nomination are Texas Governor Rick Perry and former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman. Neither of them is seen as likely to win a significant number of votes in the New Hampshire poll.

The outcome of Tuesday's primary election is considered an important indicator of which candidate is likely to get the Republican nomination for president.

Romney faces a more difficult challenge in more conservative South Carolina, despite getting the endorsement of that southern state's governor. That primary election is January 21.