Morry Gash / AP Photo

At the GOP undercard debate, the focus was on defeating Clinton

NJ Gov. Chris Christie came out swinging at the GOP undercard debate, setting a feisty tone that all candidates adopted

The four GOP candidates debating in Milwaukee agreed on one key concept Tuesday night: Hillary Clinton must lose the 2016 presidential election.

Singing this song the loudest was New Jersey Chris Christie who told his fellow Republicans on the debate stage: Stop the infighting — Hillary Clinton is the real enemy.

He addressed voters, saying, "Hillary Clinton's coming for your wallet, everybody.”

Christie said of Clinton, "She believes she can make decisions for you better than you can make them for yourself." 

As the evening evolved into a sparring match between Christie and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who attacked Christie’s record on social programs in New Jersey, Christie responded by going negative on Clinton.

The exchanges between candidates were more abrupt than similar skirmishes in prior debates, thanks in part to a shorter running time and more, and more pointed questions from the moderaters.

Tuesday's debate, last for the GOP until mid-December, could help shape the course of the campaign into the winter as voters begin to pay more attention to the White House race.

The first question of the undercard debate went to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who is trying to have a breakout night after being taken off the main stage. He competed with the frontrunners in the first three debates.

He was asked what concrete steps he would take to create jobs. He responded with a story about a woman who approached him in New Hampshire and said she is experiencing anxiety about paying her bills.

Christie and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee were relegated to the undercard debate for the first time, because they failed to garner 2.5 percent in the four most recent national polls. Also onstage were Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

Not on the stage, for the first time: South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former New York Gov. George Pataki, because they failed to get 1 percent support in any one of those four polls.

Christie said if he's elected president, he'll "fire a whole bunch of IRS agents."

The line delivered Tuesday in response to the first question of the fourth Republican undercard debate drew applause from the audience in Milwaukee.

Christie said he wants to make the tax code fairer by getting rid of all deductions except for home interest and charitable donations. He says his plan would make it so income taxes can be filed in 15 minutes.

Huckabee called for more manufacturing in the United States.

Huckabee said that if we can't "feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves," there is no freedom.

Huckabee continued his call to create a "Fair Tax" that would eliminate federal income and investment taxes and replace them with a 23 percent federal sales tax. He also says he would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum said better job training for people coming out of high school is key to strengthening the manufacturing industry.

Santorum said he visits a manufacturing company once a week and finds open jobs with no one to fill them. He said too many politicians, including his fellow Republicans, wrongly think every high school graduate needs to go on to college.

“We need to provide opportunities for them to go to work out of high school," Santorum said.

More than one candidate attacked the Federal Reserve, saying that Fed chair Janet Yellen has political motives for keeping interest rates low.

Christie says the Fed should be audited and "should stop playing politics." Santorum says low interest rates are "hurting seniors."

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal says the United States is "on the path to socialism."

Jindal said Tuesday during the Republican undercard debate in Milwaukee that the most important question facing voters in the upcoming presidential election is whether people are willing to cut the size of the government to grow the economy.

He says, "It's not enough just to beat Hillary Clinton, we have to change the direction of our country." He says under President Obama there is "record dependence" on welfare programs.

Jindal is struggling to break through in the crowded Republican field, and has not been on the main stage in any of the four GOP debates. He spent much of the evening critiquing the records of his onstage rivals, suggesting that he had the more consistently conservative record.

"The reason we keep losing nationally is we try to be cheaper versions of the Democratic party," said Jindal.

The Associated Press 

Related News

Find Al Jazeera America on your TV

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get email updates from Al Jazeera America

Sign up for our weekly newsletter