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Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal was spoiling for a fight during Tuesday evening’s GOP undercard debate in Milwaukee, repeatedly taking aim at his Republican opponents — consisting this time of Govs. Chris Christie and Mike Huckabee and former Sen. Rick Santorum — and attempting to lure them into the ring by criticizing their records as public servants. Frequently, they refused to join him.

Christie was Jindal’s repeat target, but the New Jersey governor just kept using the same go-to deflection tactic: to invoke the name “Hillary Clinton.”

While Jindal was more successfully baiting Huckabee into defending his record as governor of Arkansas, Christie intervened with the first in a series of his own offensive moves directed at the Democratic front-runner. “She’s the real adversary tonight,” Christie warned. “We’d better stay focused … on her.”

Then he hit his conservative audience where it counts: “Hillary Clinton’s coming for your wallet, everybody!”

In response to another attempt by Jindal to start a back-and-forth tussle over the title of the country’s most conservative governor, Christie demurred, instead praising Jindal’s job as Louisiana’s boss. When Jindal responded with another criticism of Christie’s performance in New Jersey, Christie was ready with a get-a-load-of-this-guy aside to the audience: “I complimented Bobby—imagine how much time he’d want if I actually criticized him.”

Of course, the evening’s theme had everything to do with Americans’ wallets. The debate, sponsored by Fox Business Network and The Wall Street Journal, was designed to zoom in on the Republican candidates’ economic philosophies and strategies, as well as to promote the network as the “anti-CNBC.” Popular themes, both for the evening’s event and on an ongoing basis for Republican voters, included how to get rid of Obamacare, honoring members of the U.S. military and police officers, shrinking the government, cutting government spending and revamping the tax system.

Oh, and how to keep America from its inevitable slide into socialism. “We are on the path to socialism right now,” Santorum intoned in the undercard debate’s opening minutes.

Putting aside gauzy prophecies in favor of more concrete talk, Santorum proposed a 20 percent flat-tax plan, which applies to individuals and corporations alike. Meanwhile, another of Jindal’s refrains was about electing a “real conservative” to the White House, pointedly noting that a member of the Republican Party does not a true conservative make in every case. “We try to be cheaper versions of the Democratic party,” Jindal said of the GOP’s recent bent.

Huckabee, unafraid of unleashing groaners like the joke he made comparing his wife, Janet, to Fed chief Janet Yellen by saying he’s heard a lot of “Janet yelling,” proposed that the U.S. respond to the overseas refugee crisis by setting up “encampments” for the displaced closer to their home countries instead of granting them asylum in America. “Let’s ask the Saudis to step up,” he offered.

Finally, Christie played up his prior police service and made more pleas to the American people to Save Us from Hillary Clinton, calling Clinton’s statement in the last Democratic debate that her greatest enemies would be the Republican party “the most disgraceful thing I’ve seen in weeks.” Nationalized health care, cyber warfare and brazen plays for Americans’ pocket money were just a few dangers Christie spotted in his prognostication “if you give her the keys to the White House one more time.”

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

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