Video: Rivals hammer Perry in his debate debut

  1. Closed captioning of: Rivals hammer Perry in his debate debut

    >>> let's turn to politics now. the president addresses the nation tonight talking about creating jock be as the gop presidential hopefuls took shots at the president and each other in a heated debate last night. nbc's political director chuck todd is in los angeles this morning. good morning to you.

    >> good morning. just like with the nfl and the republican primary race, the preseason is over. rick perry and mitt romney in their first debate clash of the campaign to fight and tray bashes over job creation and health care . but it was one issue that no republican six months ago thought would become divisive that did. social security .

    >> all of us are committed as a team. whoever the nominee is we are all for defeating barack obama .

    >> reporter: there is no question about the goal. but inside the ronald reagan presidential library with nancy reagan looking on, the former president's 11th commandment to never speak ill of a fellow republican was quickly thrown aside by the two leading candida candidates. rick perry and mitt romney disagree on on who created more jobs.

    >> michael dukakis created jobs three times faster than you you did, mitt.

    >> well, as a matter of fact, george bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor.

    >> that's not correct.

    >> reporter: but the issue most likely to separate the two for this phase of the campaign, social security . perry maintained the view expressed in his book fed up that it's a ponzi scheme .

    >> it is a ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today you're paying in to a program that will be there. anybody that's for the sat tuesday company with social security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids. it's not right.

    >> in the book fed up, governor, as you say, by any measure social security is a failure. you can't say that to tens of millions of americans who live on social security and those who have. our nominee has to be someone who isn't committed to abolishing stoesabolish ing social security , bru to saving social security .

    >> reporter: one more issue guiding the two, thes massachusetts health care plan which he had previously called a great opportunity for the country.

    >> it was a great opportunity for us as a people to see what will not work and that is an individual mandate in this cup.

    >> i understand health care pretty darn well having been through what i went through as a governor.

    >> reporter: michelle bachmann rarely chose to engage the two and instead stuck to familiar talking points .

    >> if we fail to appeal obama care in 2012 , it will be with us forever and it will be socialized medicine .

    >> reporter: jon huntsman , who has yet to catch fire in the polls, tried to insert himself more aggressively, challenging the conservative candidates on climate change and evolution.

    >> all i'm saying is that in order for the republican party to win, we can't run from science.

    >> reporter: perry disagreed with huntsman, but did offer up a surprising pat on the back to the president.

    >> one thing that i want to say that he did do that i agree with, that we took out a very bad man in the for him of bin laden . and i might add that he kept gitmo open against the will of his base. and i'm glad he did that. america is safer for it.

    >> one more point on the economy. we already knew rick perry was no fan of federal reserve chairman ben bernanke . but mitt romney and a couple of other candidates also agreed that in 2014 , if any of them become president, they will not ask ben bernanke to stick around, matt.

updated 9/8/2011 7:54:18 AM ET 2011-09-08T11:54:18

When Mitt Romney and Rick Perry thumped their chests over their job-creation records as governor during the Republican presidential debate Wednesday night , they left the bad parts out.

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Yes, employment has grown by more than 1 million since Perry took office in Texas. But a lot of those jobs are not well paid.

True, unemployment dropped to 4.7 percent when Romney was Massachusetts governor. But the state's employment growth was among the nation's worst.

Story: Perry takes the heat but keeps on smiling

A look at some of the claims in the debate, and how they compare with the facts:

PERRY: "Ninety-five percent of all the jobs that we've created have been above minimum wage."

THE FACTS: To support the claim, the Perry campaign provided federal statistics for December 2010 showing only 5.3 percent of all jobs in Texas pay the minimum wage.

But those figures represent all workers, not just the new jobs, for which data in unavailable. And that does not account for low-wage jobs that may be above the minimum wage. According to the Texas Workforce Commission, 51 percent of all Texas workers make less than $33,000 a year. Only 30 percent make more than $50,000 a year. Nationally, Texas ranked 34th in median household income from 2007 to 2009.

About 9.5 percent of Texas hourly workers, excluding those who are paid salaries, earn the minimum wage or less, tying Mississippi for the highest percentage in the nation.


ROMNEY: "At the end of four years, we had our unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent. That's a record I think the president would like to see. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in Massachusetts than this president has created in the entire country."

Story: Two Texans trade barbs in GOP debate

THE FACTS: To be sure, 4.7 percent unemployment would be a welcome figure nationally. But Romney started from a much better position than President Barack Obama did. Unemployment was only 5.6 percent when Romney took office in 2003, meaning it came down by less than 1 percentage point when he left office in 2007. Obama inherited a national unemployment rate of 7.8 percent.


PERRY: "Michael Dukakis created jobs three times faster than you did, Mitt."

ROMNEY: "Well, as a matter of fact, George Bush and his predecessor created jobs at a faster rate than you did, governor."

PERRY: "That's not correct."

ROMNEY: "Yes, that is correct."

THE FACTS: Romney was correct.

First Read: Who do you think won the GOP debate?

Romney accurately stated that George W. Bush — even without his predecessor — saw jobs grow at a faster rate during his 1994-2000 years as governor than Perry has during his 11 years governing Texas. Employment grew by about 1.32 million during Bush's six years in office. Employment during Perry's years has grown about 1.2 million, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

As for Perry's claim about Romney's record and that of Dukakis, he was at least in the ballpark.

Democratic Gov. Dukakis saw Massachusetts employment grow by 500,000 jobs during his two divided terms, 1975 to 1979, and 1983 to 1991, a rate of more than 41,000 jobs a year.

Romney, governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007, saw employment grow from 3.23 million to 3.29 million, growth of about 60,000 jobs, or a rate of 15,000 a year. That's not quite three times faster than Romney's job-creation record.


Associated Press writers Chris Tomlinson in Austin, Texas, and Steve Peoples in Exeter, N.H., contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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