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Race for GOP Nomination Heats up with First Big Debate in Ames

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AMES, Iowa - Republicans squared off on all the issues at Iowa State University in Ames Thursday.

The two-hour long debate hosted by Fox News and the Washington Examiner brought out eight GOP leaders hoping to eventually be elected leader of the country.

While the candidates covered everything from foreign policy to health care and gay marriage, the focus seemed to always come back around to the current economic crisis.

"We're inches away from not having a free economy," said Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

Republican Tea Party candidate and current Representative for Minnesota Michele Bachmann reminded the audience and viewers of her stance on the nation's debt crisis.

"We should not have raised the debt ceiling," Bachmann repeated throughout the evening.

But the economy and the country's recent decreased credit rating drew the most attention and biggest talking points.

"We have to have a government that doesn't spend more than it takes in and I'll do it," Romney said.

Even the lighthearted moments were really taking shots at President Barack Obama's policies. At one moment early in the debate, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty joked he'd cook dinner for anyone that could show him Barack Obama's policies for the economy.

The jokes didn't last long, with Minnesota Tea Party candidate Michele Bachmann and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty taking shots at one another throughout the night.

"She has a record of inaccurate and false statements," Pawlenty said after Bachmann said Pawlenty's policies mimicked that of President Barack Obama.

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