Texas - Not Florida - Gets Top Billing in Tampa GOP Debate

Presidential debate
The candidates line up at the Florida State Fairgrounds
TAMPA (2011-9-12) -

The eight top candidates for the Republican presidential nomination squared off against each other last night in Tampa. But it might have seemed the debate was being held in Houston or San Antonio instead of Tampa. Texas took top billing over Florida in the CNN/Tea Party debate.

You can be forgiven if you thought last night’s debate was more about the Great State of Texas than the host state, Florida. That’s because the other candidates took shots at the front runner in the polls, Texas Governor Rick Perry.

"He definitely focused on Texas and everybody focused on it with him," said Gigi Farrell of Tampa said as she walked out the debate hall. But Karen Hoffman of Fort Lauderdale says she didn’t think Florida was getting left out of the discussion.

"Not at all, because America’s looking at how Texas does it," says Hoffman. "Because Texas has become almost like a role model in how a state is to be run. So it doesn’t shortchange Florida in any way. There’s a lot that Florida can learn from it. But it’s the hotbed when you’re talking about illegal immigration, when you’re talking about state’s rights, when you’re talking about tort reform , when you’re talking about job creation, that’s the model."

University of South Florida political scientist Susan MacManus says the issues of Floridians weren’t ignored.

"The issues were certainly ones that Floridians are very concerned about. Social Security goes without saying – you can’t mention Florida without having that as an issue," says MacManus. "And certainly the creation of jobs and taxation and spending and balanced budgets – and even the federal reserve. But there is a point at which too much parochialism can backfired, and I think that maybe there are some who thought that too much Texas may not have been the best of things for Mr. Perry tonight."

The candidates will get another chance to tackle the concerns of Floridians during another debate, next week in Orlando.

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