Tue, June 14, 2011
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Economy, gov't spending to dominate 1st major GOP presidential debate

2011-06-14 02:15:34 GMT2011-06-14 10:15:34(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

Republican presidential candidate, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum answers questions from the media in Manchester, New Hampshire, the United States, June 13, 2011. 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. (Xinhua/Wang Fengfeng)

Republican presidential candidate, businessman Herman Cain (C) answers questions from the media in Manchester, New Hampshire, the United States, June 13, 2011. (Xinhua/Wang Fengfeng)

Republican candidates (L to R) Rick Santorum, former two-term senator from Pennsylvania; Congresswoman Michele Bachmann; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney; Texas congressman Ron Paul; former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty; entrepreneur Herman Cain attend their debate June 13, 2011 at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, New Hampshire. (Xinhua/Wang Fengfeng)

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.

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