"Tea party" conservatives have no hesitation about calling President Obama a "socialist." That vocabulary has worked its way into the stump speeches of many of the Republican presidential candidates. Mitt Romney, however, seemed reluctant to apply the label to the man he hopes to replace when asked about it at tonight's Google debate.
"Let me tell you the title that I want to hear said about him: that is, former President Barack Obama," Romney said to polite applause.
The presence of Rick Perry in the GOP race has cemented the Romney strategy of positioning himself as the most electable conservative in the race, and that means avoiding some of the sharper edges of his GOP foes. So Romney opted for a more familiar epithet.
"What President Obama is, is a big-spending liberal," he continued. "He takes his political inspiration from Europe and from the socialist democrats in Europe. Guess what? Europe isn't working in Europe. It's not going to work here."
In her question, Fox's Megyn Kelly quoted Perry as saying the Obama administration is "hell-bent toward taking America toward a socialist country."
Later in the debate, Newt Gingrich had no hesitation about referring to Obama's "socialist policies."