Three of the top GOP candidates for governor had a debate Saturday at the Americans for Prosperity summit in Clarkston.

Attorney General Mike Cox, Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard and U.S. Congressman Peter Hoekstra all squared off for a 90-minute debate. AFP spokespeople said missing candidate Rick Snyder was also invited but wasn't present.

Here's the topics and each candidate's response.

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Cox said public-sector unions have burdened state government.

Hoekstra said Lansing has become paralyzed by partisan battles such as unions versus the private sector.

"If I was governor and right-to-work gets on my desk, I'll sign it," Bouchard said.


Hoekstra said he'd eliminate the MBT and added there was a whole series of taxes that needed to be reformed.

Bouchard and Cox also said they'd eliminate the MBT.


Bouchard said he opposed the federal stimulus and the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). He said he doesn't believe the government should invest in the private sector.

Cox said he would oppose a second bailout. He said over regulation is what caused GM's financial slide.

Hoekstra also said over-regulation hurt GM.


Hoekstra said he'd challenge it in the courts. He said the best way was to remove those who voted for it or blocked attempt to defeat it.

Bouchard said he'd challenge it in the courts.

Cox said he did challenge it in the courts and was willing to take it all the way to the Supreme Court.


"It doesn't create a better economy or more jobs," Cox said. He also said he'd move the MEDC into the governor's office.

Hoekstra said he'd move the MEDC into the governor's office so there could be more accountability and he'd cancel the MEDC's advertising budget and call for more transparency.

"You can't even find out how much they are spending on the advertising," Hoekstra said.

Bouchard said eight out of 10 jobs are created by small businesses.


"I like green (jobs). I like blue (jobs)," Hoekstra said. "Government shouldn't be in the business of picking winners and losers."

Bouchard said green jobs were a failed policy and the government should not be subsidizing businesses because it is bad at predicting what will work.

"We are not good at picking 'the next thing,'" Bouchard said.

"The only green I'm interested in is putting more green in your wallet," Cox said.


Bouchard said a lot of the data on global warming has been falsified.

"We are not going to all start living in a field," Bouchard said. "We like to drive our cars."

Cox said there was a lot of "fibbing" going on with the East Anglia University "climategate" researchers. He said Michigan was still a manufacturing state and he wouldn't give up on those jobs.

Hoekstra joked that it's been 14 days since the volcano erupted in Iceland and President Barack Obama hadn't done a thing about it. He didn't want global warming policies to hurt competitiveness.


Hoekstra said he's put a moratorium on any new rules or regulations on businesses. He said he'd review and state regulations that required higher standards than the federal limits and ask for a justification and economic impact. He said he'd get the state bureaucracy to be more open to businesses.

Bouchard said he'd freeze any nonessential spending. He said he would freeze any new regulations and he'd tell the state's Department of Environmental Quality that "business is not the enemy."

Cox said he'd put all government spending online.


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Workers who chose to leave unions want to fend for themselves but current law requires unions in union shops to negotiate their pay and work conditions. "Worker's Choice" gives employees the freedom to choose representation.

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