BAKERSFIELD — Three potential 2012 Republican presidential contenders tested their messages Saturday in the San Joaquin Valley, mixing patriotism with attacks on President Barack Obama and the political left for an appreciative crowd at the Bakersfield Business Conference.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin all spoke at the event, which was held for the first time in five years.
None mentioned the others, focusing instead on attacking Democrats and hitting broad-based themes on how the U.S. has fallen down -- but can be great again.
Obama and the majority Democrats in Congress were criticized as being anti-growth and anti-investment.
They were vilified for building a "nanny state" that discourages innovation and encourages people to look to government to pick them up.
Obama, in particular, was criticized for apologizing to the world for the nation's actions under former President George W. Bush.
They also blamed Obama for creating the worst economy in a generation.
"Who ever thought that we'd look back at the Jimmy Carter years as the good ol' days," Romney told the crowd, which was packed into a massive tent on the campus of California State University, Bakersfield.
Gingrich hit not only on Democrats in Washington, but the Democratic-dominated California Legislature, the city of Los Angeles, tenured faculty at the University of California at Berkeley and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
In short: all are bad. The 9th Circuit, which Republicans often accuse of having a severe liberal bias, should be eliminated, he said.
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