DES MOINES —Three Republican presidential hopefuls condemned federal spending at an event over this past weekend. The budget deficit is burdening the next generation, endangering the economy, and threatening financial collapse, they pleaded to a crowd of caucus-goers.

But only one of them, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, promised to veto a deficit budget if it came across his desk his first year in office. The others conceded a balanced budget is likely still several years off.

Indeed, in the rest of the 2012 presidential-nomination field, all the candidates are calling to curb spending, but almost none of them have put forth a plan to balance the budget in the next few years.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty told a crowd of around 500 in Des Moines he supports a Constitutional requirement to balance the budget every year, but after the event, he said he’d probably sign a deficit budget his first year as president.