Republican White House hopefuls condemned President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy from the opening moments of their first major debate of the campaign season Monday night, and pledged emphatically to repeal his historic year-old health care overhaul.
“When 14 million Americans are out of work, we need a new president to end the Obama Depression,” declared former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, the first among seven contenders on stage to criticize the president’s economic policies.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, invited as an unannounced contender for the 2012 nomination, upstaged her rivals for a moment, using a nationwide television audience to announce she had filed papers earlier in the day to run — a disclosure in keeping with a feisty style she has employed in a bid to become a favorite of Tea Party voters. (More details, A4
Obama was hundreds of miles away on a day in which he blended a pledge to help companies create jobs in North Carolina with a series of campaign fundraisers in Florida.
The New Hampshire event unfolded more than six months before the state hosts the first primary of the 2012 campaign, and the Republicans who shared a stage were plainly more interested in criticizing Obama than one another.