Candidates, town gear up for first major GOP debate of U.S. campaign season

12:32, June 14, 2011      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

by Xinhua Writers Wang Fengfeng, Wang Wei

Seven Republican candidates are on Monday gearing up for the first major GOP debate to choose a candidate who would take on President Barack Obama in next year's presidential election, as the small town of Manchester, New Hampshire, which hosts the debate, is also in full gear.

The debate, to be held Monday night at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, drew party heavyweights such as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, and will help clarify the crowded Republican field for the crucial primary state and even the whole nation.

On Monday, workers were making finishing touches to a stage built at the Thomas F. Sullivan Arena inside Saint Anselm College, as candidates popped up here and there to take journalist questions or talk with activists.

New Hampshire, the tiny Northeastern state, will be the first to host party primaries early next year, after Iowa's caucuses, and will serve as an important gauge for candidate strength and support.

Romney, who has been leading the pack in recent polls, is focusing his campaign in New Hampshire during recent weeks, and he announced his candidacy there.

Apart from the three, businessman Herman Cain, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum are also participating in the debate.

"This is a year for some of the stronger candidates to show how strong they are, and for some lesser candidates to jump up onto that higher tier," and the debate can serve as a forum for that end, John Fortier, director of Democracy Project with the Bipartisan Policy Center, told Xinhua in a recent interview.


According to Fortier, in addition to leading the polls, Romney is also the best known, the best organized, and the one who is likely to raise the most money, while the rest are vying to become an alternative to him at this stage.

"I think if you look at the field, it's pretty flat," Santorum told journalists Monday."Clearly, Gov. Romney is the guy leading the polls, but this is a wide open race."

Cain, the business executive who never ran for political office before, also said Monday that "polls this early are a barometer, but they don't necessarily predict the outcome."

Others went on Sunday talk shows to do the talking.

Pawlenty, who, like Romney, has the support of institutional or traditional wing of the party, told Fox News Sunday that Massachusetts' healthcare reform under Romney's watch resemble that of Obama's divisive healthcare overhaul last year.

"President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare," said Pawlenty. Romney has said Massachusetts' healthcare program was fundamentally different from the national program, deeply unpopular among Republicans despite being welcomed by Democrats.

Obama is also a target for attacks. Prospective candidate Jon Huntsman, who is expected to announce his candidacy later in the month, said Sunday in CNN's "State of the Union" that the president has "failed on the economic front."

"On the economic side, there are no signs of success, very little," said the former Utah governor, who has worked for the Obama administration until April as U.S. Ambassador to China. "You look at unemployment, you look at the environment in which jobs supposedly can be created, when you look at the debt level, you look at all the economic indicators, and it would suggest that we' re in bad shape."


The site for the first major Republican debate is also a traditional venue. Saint Anselm College has hosted this kind of debate in the past, as New Hampshire is a crucial early primary state.

At the Thomas H. Sullivan Arena in Saint Anselm College, workers have finished the set up for the debate stage Monday. During the weekend and the week before, dozens of workers busied themselves in building the massive stage with giant television screens, graphics, lights and electronic equipment, turning it into a TV spectacle.

In addition to working on retail campaigns in engaging influential activists, candidates are also looking to pump up their volume in releasing ads.

The first ad by a major candidate in the 2012 presidential cycle is from Santorum. It began airing on national satellite stations Monday and will then begin airing later in the week on local stations in New Hampshire as well as Iowa and South Carolina, both early battleground for the Republican nomination.

In the 60-second spot, Santorum expresses outrage over federal deficit and national debt. He says the idea of spending money the government doesn't have would have "astounded" the nation's founders. Santorum spokesman Virginia Davis said the ads will last two weeks.

Source: Xinhua
  Weekly review  


  • Do you have anything to say?


Special Coverage
  • Xi Jinping visits Italy, Cuba, Uruguay, Chile
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Colorful Mood Exhibition of Chinese Artist Wang Yishi held at Czech Embassy in Beijing
  • Rain adds to watermelon growers' sales woes
  • Chinese vice premier meets former British PM Gordon Brown
  • Chinese, Kazakh presidents hold talks on partnership
  • Kim Jong Il meets senior Chinese official
  • Hot Air Balloon Challenge held in Haikou
Hot Forum Discussion