The four remaining candidates for the GOP nomination took to the stage last night in yet another debate. The two front runners, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, sparred over health care and government bailouts. Santorum hit Romney for setting up a health care system in Massachusetts that is similar to the health care law President Obama signed into law in 2010. He also accused the former governor of supporting the bailout of Wall Street. Romney hit back at Santorum for supporting former Pennsylvania senator Arlen Specter. Specter later went on to switch parties and voted for Obamacare.
The Republican primary season is about to heat up in the coming weeks. This coming Tuesday there will be primaries in Arizona and Michigan. On March 6 Super Tuesday occurs, which is ten primaries in one day. The candidates were all in need of good press as all four are currently losing in the polls to President Obama. Voters are now more optimistic about the state of the economy and the direction of the country.
Mitt Romney has long been the front runner in the campaign, but he has struggled to seal the deal. Several candidates have risen to challenge him for the top spot, including Rick Perry, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich. Rick Santorum is the latest to rise to the top with recent wins in Missouri, Minnesota, and Colorado. Santorum is known more as a social conservative while Romney is known for his corporate experience. Romney is currently leading comfortably in Arizona, but faces a stiff challenge from Santorum in Michigan.
Alabama’s Republican primary is scheduled for March 13 along with Mississippi and Hawaii. The latest polls show a very tight race in Alabama. The Capital Survey Research Center in Montgomery had Romney leading with 27% of the vote in a survey conducted February 6-8. Santorum followed with 23% and Gingrich was right behind with 22%. Ron Paul came in last with 7%. Alabama has followed the national pattern of consistently changing front runners.
The winner of the Republican nomination will likely not be of great significance in the fall. The 2012 presidential election is going to be a referendum on President Obama. If the economy continues to improve in the coming months the president will likely get reelected. If the economy falters and gas prices continue to rise he will likely lose. A key number to look at is the unemployment rate. If unemployment drops below 8% then President Obama is almost assured of winning the election.
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