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At GOP Debate, Talk Turns Away from Top Issues

JOHNSTON, Iowa -- The moderator of today's Des Moines Register debate began with a declaration: That the debate would not focus on Iraq or immigration. The logic was that Iowans wanted to hear from the candidates on other issues.

At first blush, the statement sounded odd, since a recent Washington Post-ABC News Iowa poll showed Iraq (24 percent) and immigration (24 percent) atop the list of voting issues for likely GOP caucus-goers. But also notable in that poll was that a number of issues reach double-digit importance.

While other top issues did get some air time (and no decree can stop the discussion of immigration) some of the debate's early topics rated far down the Republican issue list. Only 4 percent cited the federal budget deficit; 2 percent named education. Energy and ethanol were mentioned by less than 1 percent, as was the environment. No poll respondents cited global warming, which all candidates were asked to address, as a top issue.

Other issues near the top of the voters' list from the Post-ABC Iowa poll: terrorism (21 percent), the economy (16 percent), health care (16 percent), abortion (15 percent), taxes (13 percent) and family values (10 percent).

--Jennifer Agiesta

By Web Politics Editor  |  December 12, 2007; 5:54 PM ET
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