(Reuters) - Seven Republican presidential hopefuls held their first major debate in a nationally televised forum from Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday that included most of the top-tier contenders vying to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012.
Here are some key quotes from the candidates:
FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY
"Why isn't the president leading? He isn't leading on balancing our budget and he's not leading on jobs. He's failed the American people both in job creation and the scale the government."
"This president has failed. And he's failed at a time when the American people counted on him to create jobs and get the economy growing. And instead of doing that, he delegated the stimulus to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, and then he did what he wanted to do: card-check, cap-and-trade, Obamacare, re-regulation."
"I can't wait to debate (Obama) and say, 'Mr. President, if, in fact, you did look at what we did in Massachusetts, why didn't you give me a call and ask what worked and what didn't?' And I would have told you, Mr. President, that 'What you're doing will not work. It's a huge power grab by the federal government. It's going to be massively expensive, raising taxes, cutting Medicare. It's wrong for America.'"
FORMER MINNESOTA GOVERNOR TIM PAWLENTY
"This president is a declinist. He views America as one of equals around the world. We're not the same as Portugal; we're not the same as Argentina. And this idea that we can't have 5 percent growth in America is hogwash."
"I'm for a fair and open trade but I'm not for being stupid and I'm not for being a chump. And we have individuals and organizations and countries around this world who are not following the rules when it comes to fair trade."
"The programs that President Obama has put forward haven't really worked. They've been a failure. They've been slow. They haven't really solved the problem."
"The first thing we need to do is get the government out of crony capitalism. We have this alliance between big government, big unions, and certain big bailout businesses."
REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN OF MINNESOTA
"Unlike how the media has tried to wrongly and grossly portray the Tea Party, the Tea Party is really made up of disaffected Democrats, independents, people who've never been political a day in their life, people who are libertarians, Republicans -- it's a wide swathe of America coming together."
FORMER PIZZA EXECUTIVE HERMAN CAIN
"This economy is stalled. It's like a train on the tracks with no engine and the administration has simply been putting all of this money in the caboose. We need an engine called the private sector."
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER NEWT GINGRICH
"The Obama administration is an anti-jobs, anti-business, anti-American energy destructive force."
"If you're dealing with something as big as Medicare and you can't have a conversation with the country where the country thinks what you're doing is the right thing, you better slow down. Remember, we all got mad at Obama because he ran over us when we said don't do it. Well, the Republicans ought to follow the same ground rule."
"As each new state becomes right to work, they send a signal to the remaining states, don't be stupid ... If you believe in the 10th Amendment, we ought let the states learn from each other. And the right-to-work states are creating a lot more jobs today that they heavily unionized states."
REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL OF TEXAS
"There shouldn't be any government assistance to private enterprise. It's not morally correct, it's not legal, it's bad economics. It's not part of the constitution."
"We're doing what we did in the depression. We're doing what the Japanese have done. You need to get the prices of houses down to clear the market, but they're trying to keep the prices up."
(Additional reporting by Paul Eckert in Washington; Editing by David Lawder)