Republican presidential hopefuls square off in Iowa

Candidates criticize Obama and each other in Thursday debate

The eight Republicans vying for the party’s 2012 presidential nomination squared off in Iowa Thursday in a debate that saw each candidate criticize the current U.S. president — and each other. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney is said to be the early frontrunner as the candidates head into this weekend’s Iowa Straw Poll, a non-binding preliminary ballot. Texas Governor Rick Perry is also expected to put his name forward as a potential nominee on Saturday. The highlights of Thursday’s debate included former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty calling Minnesota Representative Michele Bachmann’s political accomplishments “non-existent.” Bachmann responded by criticizing Pawlenty’s past support for environmental legislation, saying he “sounds a lot like President Obama.”

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