COOPER: Let me just give the question now to Senator -- I'm going to ask everyone.
So, Governor Huckabee, if you can, briefly: Are we better off than we were eight years ago?
HUCKABEE: I don't think we are. And the real issue, though, let's not blame President Bush for all of this. We've got a Congress who sat around on their hands and done nothing but spend a lot of money and they're spending, leaving us $9 trillion in debt that we're passing on to our grandchildren.
I don't blame the president solely for that. So I think if we're asking is George Bush responsible for all this, no. But are we better off? Well, let's look at some factors.
Right now, home sales are -- new home starts, anyway, are down 40 percent. That's going to have a cascading impact on everybody who sells lumber, who is in the building trades.
If you talk to people who are driving trucks across America today, their fuel prices are significantly higher than they were a year ago. They're hurting because they're not making a lot more money to haul something, but they're spending a lot more money to get it done.
And all over our economy, with unemployment up to five percent across the nation, that means there are a lot of families today that don't have a paycheck and if you don't have a paycheck, then it's hard to put groceries on the table and it's hard to pay the rent.
And I think what Americans are looking for is somebody to just honest with them and straight with them and tell them that, no, it's not better and it's not going to get better unless we have some serious leadership in Washington that says that we're going to have to start having policies that touch the people not just at the top, but the people at the bottom. And they feel like they're invisible to a lot of people in government today.
COOPER: Congressman Paul, 61 percent of Americans think there is a recession already -- 61 percent of Americans say there's already a recession.
Are we better off than we were eight years ago? PAUL: No, no, we're not better off. We're worse off, but it's partially this administration's fault and it's the Congress. But it also involves an economic system that we've had for a long time and a monetary system that we've had and a foreign policy that's coming to an end and we have to admit this.
The Republicans were elected in 1994 to change direction of the country, because people sensed there was something wrong, we were going the wrong direction, but we didn't do anything.
In the year 2000, we did, also. We were elected in the year 2000 to have a humble foreign policy and not police the world, and yet what are we doing now? We're bogged down in another war. We're bankrupting our country and we have an empire that we're trying to defend which costs us $1 trillion a year.
And the standard of living is going down today. It's going down and the middle class is hurting because of the monetary policy.
PAUL: When you destroy a currency, the middle class gets wiped out. Poor countries don't even have middle classes. We used to have one, and they're on the ropes right now.
But it has to do with a fiscal policy, monetary policy, and foreign policy of way too much spending, but it took a lot of years for us to get here. The people in this country have been begging for a change in direction, and they haven't had it. It's time we gave it to them.
COOPER: We've got a lot to get to on the economy. To begin with, let's go to Janet Hook of the L.A. Times.
HOOK: Governor Romney, you've spent the last several days warning voters that John McCain as president would follow, quote, "a liberal, Democratic course." But, by most measures, doesn't he have a pretty mainstream conservative record?
ROMNEY: I'm sure on many issues he does, and he's a good Republican. I wouldn't question those credentials at all. But there are a number of pieces of legislation where his views are out of the mainstream, at least in my view, of conservative Republican thought.
So, for instance, he's opposed to drilling in ANWR, I believe. If I'm correct -- correct me, Senator. He voted twice against the Bush tax cuts. Only two Republicans did that.