Economy Dominates Early Going
With the yo-yoing stock market as a backdrop, talk of an economic downturn and today's compromise between Congress and President Bush to stimulate the troubled economy dominated talk in the earlier moments of tonight's Republican debate in Boca Raton, Florida.
All three of the candidates seen as potential winners in next Tuesday's Sunshine State primary applauded the deal reached by congressional leaders and the president but said it did not go far enough.
Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) said he would support the bill in the Senate but added that he was "disappointed" that the proposed legislation doesn't include making the Bush tax cuts permanent -- throwing a bit of red meat to fiscal conservatives.
Former governor Mitt Romney praised the plan but quickly noted that he wished it had gone further, proposing long term solutions to grow the economy. "If you want to turn an economy around, the key thing is to grow jobs," said Romney.
Romney sought to draw a bright line between himself and McCain, noting that the Arizona senator had not originally supported the Bush tax cuts.
McCain responded that the reason he did not support the tax cuts originally was because of concerns over spending. "I voted on the tax cuts because I knew unless we had spending under control we were going to face a disaster," said McCain. He took a pass on taking a shot at Romney.
McCain was also asked whether comments he made that he was less familiar with economics than national security should worry voters. McCain, clearly ready for the question, retorted that he was "well versed" on economic issue -- rattling off a list of his advisers with street credibility in fiscal conservative circles. "I have a strong team around me that respect my views and my vision," added McCain.
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