Milwaukee, Wisconsin – Four GOP presidential candidates who participated in the earlier, undercard debate vowed to reform the tax system and to improve the financial well-being of Americans.
The participants, whose poll numbers were too low to qualify them for the primetime debate, were New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
Christie said that if he's elected president, he'll "fire a whole bunch of IRS agents."
The line was delivered Tuesday in response to the first question of the night drew applause from the audience in Milwaukee.
After sharing the stage with the frontrunners the first three GOP debates, Christie hoped to have a breakout night and get back to the main debate.
The night was focused on the economy, and Christie said he wants to make the tax code fairer by getting rid of all deductions except for home mortgage interest and charitable donations. He says his plan would make it so income taxes can be filed in 15 minutes.
Jindal, who spent much of the debate taking shots at Christie, said the United States is "on the path to socialism."
"It's not enough just to beat Hillary Clinton, we have to change the direction of our country,” the Louisiana governor said. Under President Barack Obama, he said, there is "record dependence" on welfare programs.
Santorum pointed to better job training for people coming out of high school as a key to strengthening the country’s manufacturing industry.
The former U.S. Senator said he visits a manufacturing company once a week and finds open jobs with no one to fill them. He added that too many politicians, including his fellow Republicans, wrongly think every high school graduate needs to go to college.
He said, "We need to provide opportunities for them to go to work out of high school."
Huckabee is calling for more manufacturing to occur in the United States.
He added that if we can't "feed ourselves, fuel ourselves and fight for ourselves," there will be 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 said he would abolish the Internal Revenue Service.
Like Christie, Huckabee was on the main stage in the previous debates, but was bumped to the early event due to low national polling numbers.
Based on reporting by The Associated Press.
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