Where The GOP Candidates Stand On The Debt Plan Only two of the 2012 contenders serve in Congress, but if they all had to vote, would it be yea or nay or something in between?
NPR logo Where The GOP Candidates Stand On The Debt Plan

Where The GOP Candidates Stand On The Debt Plan

With Republicans so divided on the debt-ceiling plan, the issue could be a major fault line in the 2012 presidential race. Only two contenders currently serve in Congress, but NPR took a look at how they all might vote on House Speaker John Boehner's bill:

No Way, No How

  • Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann

    Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

    Bachmann, founder of the House Tea Party Caucus, has long been a vocal opponent of raising the debt ceiling, accusing the administration of engaging in "scare tactics" and objecting to Boehner's plan because she believes it won't "reform spending."

    In her own words: "The premise is wrong right now that both parties are engaging. They're beginning from the premise that we will increase the debt ceiling; that's the wrong premise." --July 26, Iowa

  • Texas Rep. Ron Paul

    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    Paul, also a hero to the Tea Party wing of his party, was once the Libertarian Party's presidential nominee. He has previously authored legislation to abolish the income tax and the Federal Reserve.

    In his own words: "I'm not going to vote to raise the debt limit. I'm an easy 'no' on this. I think both sides are failing to understand that the country is bankrupt and there will be a default. The only debate that is going on is how you default. I vote for stopping the spending so we don't have to print all the money." --July 27, Fox News


  • Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum

    Steve Pope/Getty Images

    A fiscal and social conservative, Santorum told the Wall Street Journal that Republicans should accept raising the debt in exchange for spending cuts and passage of a balanced budget amendment, not currently included in Boehner's plan.

    In his own words: "That would be a way to get Republicans to support an increase in the debt ceiling without having to have a big, huge deal that's going to be painful for everyone." --July 11, Wall Street Journal

  • Former Godfather's Pizza Chairman Herman Cain

    Herman Cain. Patrick Semansky/AP hide caption

    toggle caption
    Patrick Semansky/AP

    Another candidate who is a favorite of Tea Party Republicans, Cain has long been on the same page as Bachmann when it comes to the debt ceiling. But he has resisted Tea Party calls for Boehner's ouster, and accuses Democrats of exaggerating the risk of default.

    In his own words: "These are scare tactics, when they say they have to raise it or old people, children or puppy dogs will be hurt. That is just scaring people." --July 27, Washington

Newish No

  • Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty

    Seth Wenig/AP

    Pawlenty, in a battle with Bachmann for the affections of Iowans, told an afternoon crowd in Iowa that he needed to know more about Boehner's plan before committing. By that evening, he announced his opposition.

    In his own words: "The debt limit is a line in the sand where Republicans can force the tough decisions to fix our nation's finances, and taxpayers cannot afford for us to back down now. I am for the plan that will cut spending, cap it and pass a balanced-budget amendment, but unfortunately this latest bill does not accomplish that." --July 26, campaign statement


  • Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin

    Palin Craig Ruttle/AP hide caption

    toggle caption
    Craig Ruttle/AP

    Palin, the party's 2008 vice presidential nominee, has not entered the 2012 race but remains a major party presence. Her position on raising the debt ceiling has moved over the past month, from adamant opposition to looking for spending cuts as part of a deal.

    In her own words: "The internal problem that [Boehner] has is reinventing the wheel here in the 11th hour, when we already have 'cut, cap and balance' that passed the House, and we don't need to retreat now and wave a white flag. This Aug. 2 deadline is looming, but it's not Armageddon, it's not life or death, so Boehner and the Republicans have got to make sure that they've got a good plan."--July 26, Fox News

Do I Really Have To Say?

  • Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney

    John Moore/Getty Images

    Romney has been nicked by his opponents for not saying publicly whether he supports Boehner's plan. He has endorsed an earlier House plan, which stood no chance in the Democratically controlled Senate, that included a balanced-budget amendment.

    In his own words: "It is within the president's power to say to the leadership in the House and the Senate that 'I'll cut spending, I'll cap the amount of spending, and I'll pursue a balanced-budget amendment.' And if the president were to do that, this whole debt limit problem goes away." --July 14, New Hampshire

  • Texas Gov. Rick Perry

    Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

    Perry is not an announced candidate, but has been making moves that suggest he'll get in. He hasn't commented directly on Boehner's plan, but echoed Republicans who suggest the administration has overstated the potential economic fallout from default.

    In his own words: "I think this threat that somehow or another the world's going to come to an end, and the threat of, we're not going to be able to pay our bills, is a bit of a stretch. I'm frustrated along with the rest of Americans, but the fact of the matter is ... we've spent too much money, we've gotten our house in bad shape, and we need to stop spending."--July 27, Houston

I Guess I'm A Yes

  • Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich

    Jim Cole/AP

    Gingrich hasn't commented directly on Boehner's plan, though while in New Hampshire this week, he said he would support a 30-day debt-ceiling extension. In an interview with the Nashua Telegraph, he also characterized alarm raised over a possible default as overblown.

    In his own words: "It's based on Wall Street politics. It's not based on reality. It's an effort to scare the American people." --July 26, Nashua (NH) Telegraph

Strong Yes

  • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman

    Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman. Jim Cole/AP hide caption

    toggle caption
    Jim Cole/AP

    Huntsman, until recently the Obama administration's ambassador to China, is the exception among the GOP field. In an interview with CBS news, he has expressed unequivocal support for Boehner's plan.

    In his own words: "We've got to find a solution here, and I think Speaker Boehner's solution is right on. It cuts where we need to cut. He talks about tax reform, where we desperately need it as a country." --July 27, CBS News