Republicans are gearing up for the first major debate in the race for the 2012 presidential nomination tonight in New Hampshire. It comes after a weekend of political jabs at President Obama and each other.
Tim Pawlenty, who is scheduled to participate in the debate, slammed the President and fellow GOP contender Mitt Romney on health care yesterday. He said, "President Obama said that he designed Obamacare after Romneycare and basically made it Obamneycare. And so, we now have the same features -- essentially the same features. The President's own words is that he patterned in large measure Obamacare after what happened in Massachusetts. And what I don't understand is they both continue to defend it."
Despite the criticism of his health care plan, Romney is atop the latest USA Today/Gallup poll of presidential hopefuls, with 24% of Republican voters backing him. Sarah Palin comes in at second at 16% and Herman Cain trails behind both of them with 9%.
Missing from the leaders of that poll is Newt Gingrich, who's resolved to stay in the race, even after most of his top advisers left his campaign. Speaking to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Los Angeles last night Gingrich said, "I will endure the challenges, I will carry the messages of American renewal to every part of this great land no matter what it takes, and with the help of every American who wants to change Washington, we will prevail."
Another possible contender, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman revealed yesterday that he's a week and a half away from making an announcement about his decision to run but is wasting no time to hit President Obama. He said that Obama "failed on an economic front" and showed "no signs of success" on Wall Street.
Texas Governor Rick Perry, who also may be considering throwing his hat in the ring, attacked the President for funding embryonic stem cell research and abortions. Yesterday he said, "Within the first week in office, President Obama, he chose to overturn the Mexico City policy, which basically means that your federal tax dollars can now be used to fund abortion all over the world. With a stroke of a pen, abortion essentially became a U.S. foreign export."
Perry's latest appearance at a rally in Los Angeles marked the first of the governor's coast-to-coast events, outside his home state this week. He's expected to appear at a Republican leaders' meeting in Lousiana and a Republican gala in NYC, where he'll be replacing Donald Trump as a keynote speaker.