Cain apologizes for 'Princess Nancy' comment at debate
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich of Georgia, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum joined Romney, Cain, Paul and Huntsman on stage at Oakland University in Michigan, a state where unemployment is 11.1 percent and well above the national 9 percent jobless rate.
The debate took place less than two months before Iowa's kickoff caucuses, as the pace of campaign activity accelerates and public opinion polls suggest the race remains quite fluid. Romney and Cain currently share co-front-runner status in most surveys, with Perry and Gingrich roughly tied for third, within striking distance.
Not surprisingly, none of the contenders found much to like in President Barack Obama's economic stewardship. Perry said the next president should systematically judge all of the government regulations enacted since Obama took office on a standard of whether they created jobs. Any that failed should be repealed, he said.
Bachmann sharply criticized Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She said the latter had recently given multimillion-dollar bonuses to executives even though it was seeking a new federal bailout.
Gingrich, who last held public office more than a decade ago, bristled when asked what advice his company had given Freddie Mac for a $300,000 fee. "Advice on precisely what they didn't do," he shot back - stop backing mortgages to applicants who aren't credit-worthy.
The government rescued mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in September 2008 to cover their losses on soured mortgage loans. Since then, a federal regulator has controlled their financial decisions.
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