By Kate Spalla — 1-16-12
The GOP presidential candidates seemed to have ganged up on Mitt Romney. It happened tonight in the South Carolina debate sponsored by Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal. The former Massachusetts Governor has won the first two states to vote in the presidential campaign, but his four competitors are fighting for the third state, South Carolina.
The battle started almost immediately when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was asked why he was attacking Romney with his television ads especially about his Bain Capital financial record.
“You have to at least bring up your competitor’s record… to raise questions and see whether or not your competitor can answer effectively,” Gingrich said.
Texas Governor Rick Perry then targeted Romney because he hasn’t released his income tax report.
“As Republicans, we cannot fire our nominee in September, we need to know now,” Perry said.
Romney said he plans to release the records during the tax season in April if he becomes the Republican presidential nominee before then.
Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum nearly tied with Romney in Iowa, but his support has since dwindled. Tonight he accused Romney of putting out an inaccurate television ads.
“If I had something from the super PAC that was supporting me that was inaccurate, I would go out and say, ‘Stop it,'” Santorum said.
Santorum questioned Romney about an ad criticizing his decision to allow felons to vote once they were out of prison. He then attacked Romney for a Massachusetts law allowing felons to be able to vote. The former Baystate governor said he disagreed with the law and believed felons should never be able to vote.
The debate began with a hit on negative political ads that loomed over the stage for the next two hours. At the end of the debate, Romney called for more candidate control over advertisements funded by super political action committees supporting for their campaigns.
Congressman Ron Paul defended his ads, saying he wished he had more than a one-minute commercial to attack Santorum. He claimed he had so much more to criticize about Santorum.
Paul came in second place in New Hampshire and third in Iowa, but for the first half of the debate, he was quiet. Later on Paul took the reigns on foreign policy. He said military spending is different than defense spending, and he wants to cut excessive military spending overseas.
“We’re diluting ourselves in 900 bases, 130 countries… we’re supposed to be conservative, spend less money.”
The audience booed Paul when he proposed a Golden Rule for defense. He said America should not attack a country that is not attacking it first.
Romney said America must go after its enemies. “We go anywhere they are, and we kill them.” He agreed with Perry that America must have “military superiority.”
Romney agreed with Perry again about letting states vote on some issues and getting rid of excessive government regulation.
After his poor showing in Iowa, Perry had said he would reassess his campaign, but he is still in the race. Romney’s agreements with him could indicate that Romney expects him to drop out, and hopes for his endorsement.
Romney may be called the rock star candidate, but Twitter polls show that many people think Romney dodged answers on most topics during this debate. Thursday the candidates will take part in a CNN-sponsored debate. Then Saturday, South Carolina votes.