Republican Candidates Jostle over Who is Toughest

By PHILIP ELLIOTT | June 17, 2011 | 4:41 PM EDT

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour speaks at the Republican Leadership Conference in New Orleans, Friday, June 17, 2011. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The Republican candidates are competing among themselves for who is the toughest to win the nomination and then take on President Barack Obama.

It's a game of one-upsmanship that has seen increasing rhetoric in recent weeks as each candidate tries to make a name. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is promising to undo Obama's term through as many as 200 executive orders on Day One while former Sen. Rick Santorum says the president sides with evil on his policy on Iran.

And Rep. Michele Bachmann says Obama is arming al-Qaida when it helps rebels in Libya.

The tough talk is helping them build credibility within the party base but it could alienate moderate and independent voters the Republicans will need if they want to make Obama a one-term president.