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Tangling over jobs, applauding executions: A look at key moments in the GOP debate
Key moments in Wednesday night's GOP presidential debate:
Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney tangled over jobs created in their home states. While Perry touted jobs created on his watch ' and despite a recession ' Romney highlighted his work both in government and in the private sector, where he spent the bulk of his career. Perry shot back that Massachusetts' former Democratic Gov. Michael Dukakis created three times as many jobs as Romney. Romney countered that George W. Bush and his predecessor also created three times as many jobs as Perry. From the sidelines, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman piped up that his state led the nation in job creation during his tenure.
' Perry won applause from the audience for saying he never struggled with whether any of the inmates executed during his time as governor. As of Wednesday, 234 people have been executed in the 10-plus years that Perry has served as governor of Texas, the highest number of any U.S. governor. The very mention of that statistic drew applause.
' Perry stood by his criticism of Social Security, calling the program for seniors a "monstrous lie" ' a claim that prompted Romney to charge that such rhetoric is bad for the GOP.
' "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt." ' Perry to Romney.
' "Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor." ' Romney to Perry.
' "I hate to rain on the parade of the Lone Star governor, but as governor of Utah, we were the No. 1 job creator in this country during my years of service. That was 5.9 percent when you were creating jobs at 4.9 percent. And to my good friend, Mitt, 47 just ain't going to cut it, my friend, not when you can be first." ' Huntsman to Romney.
' "No, but it means that, if he wants to write another book, I'll write another foreword." ' Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, when asked if his foreword to Perry's book was an endorsement of its contents.
' "I kind of feel like the pinata here at the party." ' Perry, on his rivals' criticisms during his first presidential debate.
What wasn't on TV:
' Body language matters, especially between the pair of front-runners. When Perry answered questions, Romney, slightly taller and just an arm's length away, frequently turned his body toward the Texas governor and locked a narrow-eyed glare on him. When Romney talked about rebuilding the Massachusetts economy, Perry looked toward the crowd with a broadly arched eyebrow.
'During one commercial break, Perry and Rep. Ron Paul, a fellow Texan, continued their spirited exchange on stage. After other candidates stepped away, the pair continued to talk and, at one point, Perry spread and extended his arms while speaking emphatically to the congressman.