AMES, Iowa, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Eight Republican presidential hopefuls attacked Democrats and each other Thursday in a debate in Iowa, the state with the first presidential caucuses.
Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, trying to break into double digits in polls, took on President Barack Obama as well as his Republican rivals, The Des Moines Register reported. Pawlenty has invested more time, money and energy than his rivals have in Iowa.
In some of his remarks, Pawlenty took on Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney at the same time, the Register said. He referred to Obama's healthcare plan as "Obamneycare" because the president has said he used Romney's plan in Massachusetts as a model.
Pawlenty and Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann attacked each other, Fox News Channel -- a sponsor of the debate -- reported. The debate was co-sponsored by the Washington Examiner and the Iowa Republican Party.
The debate occurred hours after Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he is definitely a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination. Perry could combine the gubernatorial experience of Pawlenty and Romney with an appeal to Christian conservatives who support Bachmann, political analysts say.
Romney touted his business experience.
"If you spend your life in the private sector, you understand what President Obama has done is the complete opposite of what needs to be done," he said.
Bachmann suggested Pawlenty shares Obama's positions on cap and trade and requiring individuals to buy health insurance.
"During my time in U.S. Congress, I have fought all of these unconstitutional measures," she said.
Pawlenty said Bachmann lacks experience.
"She says she's got a titanium spine. It's not her spine we're worried about, it's her record of results" he said.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; Texas Rep. Ron Paul, the libertarian in the race; Herman Cain, the former chief executive officer of Godfather's Pizza and the only black candidate on the Republican side; and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, were also in the debate.