As the current Republican forerunner, Texas Governor Rick Perry is the focus of his competitors who are seeking to tarnish his reputation and poke holes in his campaign. They aggressively challenged him on issues like Social Security, immigration and border security. Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann pressed Perry on his executive order mandating vaccinations of middle-school girls against the HPV virus. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum accused Perry of giving preferential treatment to illegal immigrants, in response to a 2001 law Perry signed that gave higher education tuition breaks to children of illegal immigrants.
Other issues discussed at the debate included the current Israel-Palestine conflict, with candidates criticizing Obama’s stance. With the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” earlier this week, a gay soldier issued a video question over to the candidates. Members of the audience issued boos, and Santorum responded that DADT should be reinstated. Several of the candidates have made similar pledges.