GOP voters as divided as candidates on debt debate

By THOMAS BEAUMONT | July 16, 2011 | 9:29 AM EDT

Republican presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn. takes part in a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, July 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

PELLA, Iowa (AP) — It's no wonder that Republican presidential candidates are divided over whether to increase the federal borrowing limit.

GOP voters are, too.

Fiscal hard-liners in early-voting states say they won't back someone who supports raising the debt ceiling under any condition. They say the debate in Washington gives the 2012 candidates a chance to show stark differences with Democrat Barack Obama.

Other voters in Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina say they are upset about spending. But they also say the debt ceiling must be raised as part of a broader deficit-reduction strategy.

Some candidates oppose an increase. But most have adopted nuanced positions. They recognize the universal anxiety in the GOP base about the federal debt, but are wary of making promises that could be difficult to keep.