GOP candidates slam Obama's State of the Union

Republican presidential candidates, from left to right: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, take part in the South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate, Jan. 16, 2012, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. AP Photo/David Goldman

South Carolina Republican presidential candidate debate
AP Photo/David Goldman

The four remaining Republican presidential candidates responded to President Obama's State of the Union with strong statements casting him as an ineffective, divisive leader.

But in an interview with NBC's Brian Williams, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney gave some credit to President Obama in calling some of his ideas "interesting." But the praise stopped there and Romney said the American people "want someone who knows how to fix things; they want someone who knows how to get the economy going again."

On the same day Romney released his taxes, which shows he paid less than 14 percent in taxes on $21.7 million of income in 2010, he dismissed Mr. Obama's proposed "Buffett Rule" to require millionaires to pay at least a 30 percent tax rate, including on investment income.

"We need to encourage people to invest," Romney said.

The other three candidates released statements in response to the president's speech.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wrote, "President Obama proposed nothing in the way of policy changes that will get us to robust job creation and dramatic economic growth. Instead, the president described his conviction that his big government is built to last and should be paid for with higher taxes."

Obama's speech: Full text | Full Video
Mitch Daniels:Full text | Full Video
Video: Analysis with the CBS News political team
Full coverage: State of the Union 2012

Gingrich continued: "Here we have to confront the truth about President Obama. Economic growth and prosperity is not really at the top of his agenda. He will always prefer a food stamp economy to a paycheck economy and call it fair."

Texas Representative Ron Paul said Mr. Obama "does not represent the fundamental change this country needs. Instead of offering solutions to the problems our country faces, the President was intent on delivering a campaign speech, further dealing in the typical Washington political gamesmanship that has gotten us exactly nowhere close to improving the lives of the American people."

He criticized the president for failing to mention the Federal Reserve, a key area of government Paul wants to alter. "Of course, President Obama refuses to even mention the role the Federal Reserve plays in creating an economic system where some are denied a fair shot or even to support my efforts at bringing transparency to the Federal Reserve," Paul said.

Paul continued to write: "In the area of foreign policy and civil liberties, President Obama's rhetoric may be different, but the substance of his polices - as shown by his administration's defense of the TSA's treatment of my son, Senator Rand Paul, is hardly 'change we can believe in.'

And former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum called President Obama a "Divider-in-Chief" and said he has failed to unify the country.

"The President declared war on those who are most successful in our society," Santorum said.

Santorum continued: "Tonight Barack Obama transformed the President's annual State of the Union address into the kick-off of his re-election campaign. From beginning to end, the American people heard more of the same - empty promises and grand platitudes that will do nothing to help the millions of Americans who are unemployed or under employed find a good paying job."


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    Leigh Ann Caldwell is a political reporter for CBSNews.com.

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