From the San Francisco Chronicle:
Columbia, S.C. –
The leading Republican presidential candidates spent Labor Day declaring their fealty to limited government as they sought to demonstrate credibility with a Tea Party movement that has seized the political energy of their party.
Grim economic news has framed the Republican presidential campaign as a referendum on Obama’s fiscal leadership and a contest about which of the Republican rivals is best positioned to turn the country’s fortunes around.
But the president’s would-be replacements are also preparing for months of political combat among themselves as they seek the Republican nomination. At a wonkish policy forum Monday, five of the Republican candidates offered a preview of the intraparty fight for support from evangelical and Tea Party voters.
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota accused Obama of “stealing from generations unborn” by vastly increasing government spending. She pledged to repeal “Obamacare,” end the appointment of powerful government “czars” to oversee policy areas like immigration and the environment, and to eliminate or at least shrink the Department of Education.
“My guiding principle will be that the government works best when it acts within the limits of the Constitution,” she said at the Palmetto Freedom Forum, hosted by Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., and a leading Tea Party figure.
Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, said Americans “simply have to rein back government to be what it was considered by the founders” and criticized Obama’s three years in office.
Herman Cain, the former chief executive of Godfather Pizza, argued for a radically revamped tax code. Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker, focused on the theme of American exceptionalism and the limits of government.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas stuck to the themes that have long defined him: an abhorrence of money printing, making war, corporate subsidies and the role of government beyond the courts and defense.
But the broad focus of the Republican candidates on Monday was clear: to align themselves with the Tea Party.
At a breakfast earlier Monday in New Hampshire, Romney declared that he “couldn’t agree more” with the Tea Party’s demands for smaller government.
Gov. Rick Perry of Texas skipped DeMint’s forum to head home to deal with wildfires burning across his state.
Texas wildfires have reportedly destroyed 25,000 acres in Bastrop County and 476 homes — more houses than any single wildfire in Texas and more than all other fires this year combined, according to the Texas Forest Service.
Gov. Rick Perry left the campaign trail Monday in South Carolina to organize requests for more federal aid, with more than 60 new wildfires raging across the state, the Houston Chronicle reports.
He said officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency were expected to arrive in Texas as soon as Wednesday [...]