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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.

By Chris Cillizza  |  January 24, 2008; 9:25 PM ET
Categories:  Eye on 2008  
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Let's see, Huckabee channels FDR calling for gov't building projects as better stimulus than tax cuts, McCain saying he'll surround himself with good people (In his mind at any rate- Kemp and Graham don't do it for me..), Guiliani suggesting we reach out more to China (probably good policy, but I doubt it'll fly with conservatives), I don't see how anyone other than Romney comes out on top in this debate.

Posted by: kreuz_missile | January 24, 2008 10:21 PM | Report abuse

Kinda funny (not in the "ha ha ha" way) for Romney to be talking about jobs .. Mitt "Acquire and Fire" Romney had a lot more enthusiasm for eliminating them then for creating them. But then, he is a Chicago School type is he not? Harvard Business School or something?

Posted by: chrisfox8 | January 24, 2008 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Let's not forget that in Florida there has already been 9 days of Early Voting and several hundred thousand Absentee Ballots that have already been mailed.

I voted last Tuesday.......seems like a month ago.

Posted by: Digital_Voter | January 24, 2008 9:49 PM | Report abuse

McCain understands that deficit spending hurts the US $ and leads to taxes in the future for our kids. Some wonder if he believes that tax cuts cause growth and by listing close agents like Jack Kemp and Phil Gramm he shows that he is indead a supply-sider.

I agree with Mark that Huckabee's answer was impressive. He is a very good speaker.

Posted by: donttreadonme | January 24, 2008 9:45 PM | Report abuse

GOP debate could be crucial for candidates

Who Won the MSNBC Republican Debate in Florida?


Posted by: PollM | January 24, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

So McCain's response was not that he understand the economy, but that he knew people who understood the economy. That would be fine if his advisors were running for president. But if he gets conflicting advice from more than one advisor -- since economists seldom agree on everything -- how will he know what to do? That's not the same thing as understanding it himself.

Posted by: Perplexed | January 24, 2008 9:39 PM | Report abuse

MDH answered on the stimulus package inventively. It was different than the standard litany. If you did not see, I expect it will be available on the internet later.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 24, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

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