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Mitt Romney, Rick Perry stand tall at Republican debate

by Kelly MacNeil on September 8, 2011

The much-anticipated Wednesday-night debate between Republican presidential candidates featured some of the most well-known names in the party, but it was two governors who drew the most attention. Rick Perry and Mitt Romney sparred over issues such as social security and job creation, strengthening their place as the two front-runners to earn the GOP nomination.

The event, held at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, California, featured a number of heated exchanges between the two candidates, and moderator Brian Williams gave them plenty of chances to go back and forth. According to the Los Angeles Times, one of the most poignant moments came when Perry criticized Romney's policies on job growth, saying that Michael Dukakis had a higher rate than he did.

"George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, Governor," Romney countered.

Most analysts have said that Romney emerged on top on this debate, praising his steady response whenever pressed by Perry and the other candidates. Specifically, MSNBC reports that many have praised his push against Perry's stance against Social Security, often referring to the program as a "ponzi scheme,"

Somewhat lost in the fray was Iowa Straw Poll winner Michele Bachmann, who has lost some steam on the campaign trail since Perry entered earlier in August.

"This probably has much less to do with Michele Bachmann's personnel practices than it does than Rick Perry's poll numbers," political scientist Dan Schnur told Reuters.

The debate is just the first of three over the coming weeks, and it remains to be seen whether Perry and Romey will steal the show or if challengers such as Bachmann, Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman can reclaim some of the spotlight.

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