Immigration, Tax Returns And Open Marriage Take Center Stage At GOP Debate

January 20, 2012 9:56 am ET — Media Matters Action Network

Last night's CNN-Southern Republican primary debate started off with a bang, as moderator John King offered Newt Gingrich an opportunity to respond to public accusations from his ex-wife that he'd requested they have an "open marriage." Gingrich played the victim card, scolding King for having the nerve to broach the topic of his extramarital affair, and after a raucous reaction from a supportive audience, the debate finally settled into slightly more substantive policy issues.

In typical fashion, candidates took turns criticizing the policies of President Obama. Romney accused the president of practicing "crony capitalism," claiming that he "has to bow to the most extreme members of the environmental movement"  — by rejecting the Keystone XL Pipeline — and to "labor stooges on the NLRB so they can say 'no' to Boeing and take care of their friends in the labor movement." Romney's NLRB allegation is a yet another distortion of the truth about the Boeing case.

Romney went on to criticize the president's health care reform bill, the Affordable Care Act (ACA). But when outlining aspects of a potential Romney health care bill to replace it, Romney's plans sounded quite similar to the current ACA, including protections for people with pre-existing conditions and the ability to buy your own insurance.

Immigration was another prominent issue of the night. Gingrich repeated his support for English as the nation's "official language," and Rick Santorum declared that undocumented immigrants who have been working in the United States for many years have "probably stolen someone's Social Security number."

But the debate's highlights were probably a series of flubs by Romney, who was booed for his floundering response to requests that he release his tax returns, which likely would reveal that, despite his vast fortune, he pays a lower income tax rate than many Americans. Romney also tried to distinguish himself from Gingrich, claiming that unlike Gingrich, Romney is from the "real streets of America."

Watch highlights below the fold.

Romney: President Obama Is Practicing "Crony Capitalism"

Romney's "Consumer Market" Health Care Plan Sounds A Lot Like The Affordable Care Act

Romney: I'm From The "Real Streets Of America"

Romney On Tax Returns: "I Don't Know How Many Years" I Will Release

Gingrich: "I Favor English As The Official Language Of Government"

Santorum: Undocumented Immigrants Working In America For 25 Years "Have Probably Stolen Someone's Social Security Number"