The Daily Gamecock

GOP hopefuls spar in Columbia at the American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum

Five candidates blast Obama’s presidency

On Labor Day in a state with a 10.9 percent unemployment rate, Republican presidential candidates gathered at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center to discuss their plans to grow the economy, repeal “Obamacare,” oppose abortion and limit the size and power of the federal government.  

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Georgia businessman Herman Cain and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich spent most of their time attacking President Barack Obama’s policies during the American Principles Project Palmetto Freedom Forum.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum and former ambassador to China and Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman did not attend. Perry, the current frontrunner, said he had to return to Texas due to its wildfires. Organizers said Santorum and Huntsman weren’t invited due to their low polling numbers.

“Our next president may very well be on this stage today,” South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint said in his welcome. “It’s important that we elect a president who has the character, courage and skills to lead the greatest nation in history.”

DeMint, along with American Principles Project founder Robert George and U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa, made up the panel that would put the candidates’ conservatism to the test.

“Right-to-work is the way to go,” Romney said when asked about where he stood on unionized states versus right-to-work states. “Those 22 right-to-work states have created three million jobs over the last 10 years. The union states have lost about half a million jobs.”

He said he would repeal the Wall Street-reforming Dodd-Frank act and privatize housing finance and mortgage loan giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac because provisions need to be made and adjusted.

“It’s not that we don’t want any regulation; we want it to be updated and modern,” said Romney, the current No. 2 in the polls. “Corporations are made up of people, and we want people to succeed. And that’s how they can — through the private sector.”

Romney then make a crack at President Barack Obama, saying that he would actually have a foreign policy if he were elected president.

“The president has been reactive,” Romney said. “He had no policy with the Arab Springs. He didn’t support the surge in Iraq, but he did for Afghanistan.”

Romney said that he would repeal Obama’s health care plan even though his program previously implemented in Massachusetts had been widely criticized as being similar to Obama’s.

“Our bill dealt with 8 percent of our population. His bill dealt with 100 percent,” Romney said. “I’d say to the president, ‘Why didn’t you give me a call so I could tell you what you did wrong?’”

Bachmann argued for reducing government, saying the government works best when it acts within the bounds of the Constitution. She called the individual mandate in Obamacare unconstitutional. Bachmann also pushed for a privatized solution to economic woes.

“We need permanent, private-directed solutions and not temporary government-directed solutions, which is what Obama has given us,” she said, calling the government initiatives “gimmicks.”

Bachmann claimed that if she were elected as president, she would put forward a human-life amendment opposing abortion.

Paul, who had the largest number of supporters outside the convention center, advertised his radical reforms of not only dramatically shrinking government domestically, but on the global platform as well.

“Tyranny and big government are the big issues,” Paul said.

Paul leaned toward an more isolationist approach than the other candidates, saying that the U.S. should stay out of entangled alliances such and bring all of its soldiers home.

“All great nations fail because they spread themselves too widely around the world, and we’ve done it as well,” he said.

Cain proposed that a strong America should be maintained.

“The world is not safer, so we should not be weaker,” Cain said. “We need to clearly identify our allies, clearly identify our enemies and stop giving money to our enemies.”

Gingrich ridiculed Obama as being the “most effective food stamp president in America history.” He said that Obama cannot learn that bureaucratic socialism and class warfare kill jobs, and took a firm stance against tax increases.

“No tax increases in 2013 — period,” Gingrich said, adding that his priority would be repealing “Obamacare.”


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