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Republican Candidates Prepare for Key US Presidential Primary

Current opinion polls show Senator John McCain of Arizona and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney battling for the top spot in Florida in the Republican primary race for president. Voting there is set for Tuesday, putting added pressure on former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who has concentrated on Florida to give his campaign a boost. VOA's Robert Raffaele has the story.

Each of the Republican candidates, during a debate Thursday in Florida, offered his perspective for revitalizing America's economy.

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney promised to keep taxes low -- and stressed his experience as a venture capitalist. He said, "We need to have somebody who understands, if you will, has the private sector, has the business world, has the economy in their [his or her] DNA. I do, I spent my life in the private sector. I know how jobs come, and I know how they go. And I'll make sure we create more good jobs for this nation."

Congressman Ron Paul said America needs to adopt a new fiscal attitude. "Everybody wants to solve the problem by printing more money and spending more money and asking the Federal Reserve to lower interest rates, and that just makes the problem that much worse."

On Iraq, only Paul argued against the war. The others -- including Romney, John McCain and Rudy Giuliani -- agreed the war was necessary.

Giuliani said, "The goal in Iraq is an Iraq that's stable, and an ally of the United States."

McCain said, "It was a good idea. It was not worth the failures that happened, but it is worth it at the end of the day."

Romney had this version: "We cannot turn Iraq over to al-Qaida."

Neither do the Republicans want to turn the U.S. presidency over to the Democrats. And the candidates used the debate to criticize the Democratic primary frontrunner -- Senator Hillary Clinton. Romney remarked, "She is exactly what's wrong in Washington. I said before, 'Washington is broken.' She is Washington to the core."

The Republican candidates will debate again on Wednesday ahead of the primary campaign windfall known as Super Tuesday on February fifth. More than 20 states hold Republican primaries on that day.