ROCHESTER, Mich. — Republican presidential hopefuls agreed Wednesday night that Europe's countries should rise or fall on their own without any American bailout and warned that failing to cut budget deficits at home will doom the U.S. economy to the same sort of crisis that now plagues Greece and Italy.
Though sexual harassment allegations facing Herman Cain have dominated coverage of the Republican campaign for more than a week, the debate focused almost entirely on economic worries and proposed solutions.
"Europe is able to take care of their own problems. We don't want to step in and bail out their banks and their economies," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said as he and GOP rivals met for the first time in three weeks in a campaign debate.
Even so, he said the United States should continue contributing to organizations like the International Monetary Fund that are working to prevent a meltdown in troubled economies overseas.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas was more emphatic about Europe's debt. "You have to let it liquidate. We took 40 years to build up this worldwide debt," he added.
Cain said there isn't much the United States could do to directly to help Italy at present because the economy there is in such difficult shape. "We need to focus on the economy or we will fail," he said, referring to the U.S. and calling for spending cuts, a strong dollar and measures to stimulate growth.
Also in the debate were candidates Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
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