2012 Election
A majority of Americans -- no matter their age, gender or political affiliation -- told Gallup they can't wait for the 2012 election to be over. REUTERS

Republican presidential candidates met at the Ronald Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, Calif., Wednesday evening for a televised debate.

Here are some key quotations.


On Mitt Romney's jobs record:

He did a great job of creating jobs in the private sector all around the world. But the fact is, when he moved that experience to government, he had one of the lowest job creation rates in the country. The fact is while he has a good private-sector record, his public-sector record did not match that. As a matter of fact, we created more jobs in the last three months in Texas than he created in four years in Massachusetts.

On rivals' comments about him during the debate:

I kind of feel like the pinata here at the party.

On Social Security (government-run retirement plan):

It is a Ponzi scheme to tell our kids that are 25 or 30 years old today, you're paying into a program that's going to be there. Anybody that's for the status quo with Social Security today is involved with a monstrous lie to our kids, and it's not right.

On climate change:

Well, I do agree that there is -- the science is -- is not settled on this. The idea that we would put Americans' economy at -- at -- at jeopardy based on scientific theory that's not settled yet, to me, is just -- is nonsense. I mean, it -- I mean -- and I tell somebody, I said, just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said here is the fact, Galileo got outvoted for a spell.


On Perry's jobs record:

Texas is a great state. Texas has zero income tax. Texas has a right-to-work state, a Republican legislature, a Republican Supreme Court. Texas has a lot of oil and gas in the ground. Those are wonderful things, but Governor Perry doesn't believe that he created those things. If he tried to say that, well, it would be like Al Gore saying he invented the Internet.

On energy costs:

What the president can do is make sure we stop sending about $500 billon a year outside our country, in many cases to countries that are not real friendly with ours, to buy energy from other people. We are an energy rich nation and we're living like an energy poor nation and that can't go on.

On Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke:

I'd be looking for somebody new. I think Ben Bernanke has overinflated the amount of currency he has created.


On her promise to reduce gasoline prices to $2 a gallon:

Don't forget the day President Obama took office, gasoline was $1.79 a gallon. It's entirely possible for us to get back to inexpensive energy. The problem is energy is too high. Let's have a goal of bringing it down because every time gasoline increases 10 cents a gallon, there's $14 billion in economic activity that every American has taken out of their pocket.

On Obama's healthcare reform:

With all due respect to the governors, issuing an executive order will not overturn this massive law. This will take a very strong, bold leader in the presidency who will lead that effort.

On U.S. military strength:

As devastating as our economy is with the policies of Barack Obama, I think that he has actually weakened us militarily and with the United States presence globally.


On his qualifications:

We've got to remember, that to beat President Obama, we have to have somebody who's been in the private sector, understands the fragility of the free market system, has been a successful governor as it relates to job creation, and knows something about this world. I've lived overseas four times, I've been an ambassador to my country three times, I think I understand that.

On candidates signing pledges:

I'd love to get everybody to sign a pledge to take no pledges. I have a pledge to my wife, and I pledge allegiance to my country, but beyond that, no pledges. I think it diminishes the political discussion. I think it jeopardizes your ability to lead once you get there.

On whether the Republican Party is becoming anti-science:

When you make comments that fly in the face of what 98 out of 100 climate scientists have said, when you call into question the science of evolution, all I'm saying is that, in order for the Republican Party to win, we can't run from science.


On his plan for spurring growth:

Throw out the current tax code, a 9 percent tax on corporate income, our 9 percent tax on personal income and a 9 percent national sales tax. If 10 percent is good enough for God, 9 percent ought to be good enough for the federal government. This will replace all federal income taxes. ... It will also replace the payroll tax, so everybody gets some skin in the game.


On immigration:

We ought to control the border, we ought to have a legal guest worker program. We ought to outsource it, frankly, to American Express, Visa and MasterCard, so there's no counterfeiting, which there will be with the federal government.