Republicans Tuesday night gathered in Nevada for yet another GOP presidential debate, giving the contenders another chance to slam their opponents' records, President Barack Obama, and discuss tax and jobs' policies.
But when an audience member asked the presidential hopefuls how they would fix the foreclosure crisis, which is most severe in Nevada, none of the contenders offered concrete solutions.
There's an effort on the part of people in Washington to think somehow they know better than markets, how to re-balance America's economy, said former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who's competing hard in a state with a large Mormon population. The right course is to let markets work. And in order to get markets to work and to help people, the best we can do is to get the economy going.
His comments followed an interview with the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in which he said that to encourage housing, don't try and stop the foreclosure process. Let it run its course and hit the bottom.
Letting the foreclosure process continue, he said, would let investors buy and rent homes, which will eventually help the housing market.
Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania used the foreclosure question to hammer his opponents on their alleged support for the 2008 bank bailouts necessary to prevent the economy from collapsing. That led to a back-and-forth over whether Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Romney supported TARP.
Businessman Herman Cain agreed with Romney, saying that we need to get government out of the way.
It starts with making sure that we can boost this economy and then reform Dodd-Frank [financial reform law] and reform a lot of these other regulations that have gotten in the way.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota talked about the mothers she met on the campaign trail who are at the end of their rope because they're losing their nest for their children and for their family.
She then told the moms of America that Obama has failed them on this issue. I will not fail you, she said, adding that new jobs will fix the problem.
Worst Foreclosure Crisis in the U.S.
Nevada has been dealt a double-whammy in the recession. In the U.S., the Silver State has the highest foreclosure rate, with one in every 118 housing units receiving a foreclosure filing in September, and the highest percent unemployment rate, at 13.4 percent.
They all had their taking points but did not address Nevada specifically, Dave Buell, a local county GOP chairman, told the Reno-Gazette Journal.
Nevada is also a swing state that has voted for every candidate who has won the presidency since 1980. Obama won the state by 13 points over Sen. John McCain of neighboring Arizona.
If I were the nominee on the Republican side, and cannot articulate clearly to the voters why allowing the markets to expand opportunity to those in trouble, we can't win the election, said Nevada GOP consultant Robert Uithoven, who is unaffiliated with any presidential campaign. We certainly won't win Nevada's electoral votes.
So far, the presidential candidates have yet to do so. Already, Democrats have pounced on Romney's comments about letting the foreclosure process run its course and hit the bottom. If Romney is the nominee, expect Democrats to replay the remarks for voters, ad nauseum, regardless of whether the market could solve the foreclosure problem.
Uithoven told IBTimes that Nevadans want options on fixing the foreclosure problem. While that may mean solutions from the market and private sector, candidates need to further explain how the market will help people. He said that generalized comments will catch the attention of die-hard voters in early GOP primary states like New Hampshire and Iowa, which holds a caucus.
Simply saying, 'Allow the markets to work' might sound good to people who are well-up to speed on politics, but most voters don't spend a majority of their time on politics, said Uithoven said. You got to make sure the policies you're unveiling early in the primary season can be defended properly in the general election, should you get there.