MANCHESTER, United States, June 13 (Xinhua) -- As seven U.S. Republican presidential hopefuls join the first major GOP primary debate Monday evening, the economic situation and government spending will likely take the center stage, according to candidates and activists.
Herman Cain, one of the candidates, said Monday the issues he wishes to discuss are "economy, entitlement spending and energy."
"We have a lot of problems, but those to me are the top three critical problems," said Cain, a business executive.
Cain's wishes are clearly resonated among Republican activists. Corey Lewandowski, New Hampshire State Director for conservative group Americans for Prosperity, said Monday that "tonight, we want to hear about reform, we need to hear about the big three entitlement" programs, and called for candidates to have a candid discussion about federal debt and government spending.
The debate, to be held in Saint Anselm College, Manchester, New Hampshire, features Republican heavyweights such as former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, as well as long-shots such as Texas Congressman Ron Paul, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Cain.
John Fortier, director of Democracy Project with the Bipartisan Policy Center, told Xinhua that Republicans ran successfully in 2010 midterm elections on federal debt and deficit and the size of government, and that's what Republican candidates are going to focus on, and they are going to emphasize their tax-cutting, government-cutting credentials to the Republican base.
"I think the Republicans do reasonably well when they emphasize they want to cut spending. But there has been times...when they were seen as over-reaching, maybe going to some programs that are very popular with voters," cautioned Fortier.