Mitt Romney at Iowa debate

Sharp-elbowed Republican rivals assailed the professorial demeanor of newly minted front-runner Newt Gingrich and the cool efficiency of Mitt Romney in a debate Saturday, painting them as inconsistent conservatives who agree too much with President Barack Obama to topple him.
Throughout, Gingrich was center stage for assaults, accused of whipping up the Middle East, criticized for his work for the mortgage giant Freddie Mac, and even lampooned for a proposal to mine minerals on the moon. He was forced to answer whether his three marriages and Washington insider status would hobble his campaign, as his rivals suggested that infidelity is a legitimate concern f or voters.
“If you would cheat on your wife, why wouldn’t you cheat on your business partner, or anybody else for that matter?” Rick Perry asked, adding that when he married: “not only did I make a vow to my wife, but a vow to God. That’s pretty heavy lifting in my book.”
Gingrich responded that he had made mistakes and asked God for forgiveness, and he hopes that voters will judge him as he is now.
Gingrich and Romney, the top-polling candidates, went after each other, too, as the candidates debated with just 24 days until Iowa’s January 3 caucuses. While Gingrich has surged to a lead, analysts and politicos say the field in Iowa is wide open, and any candidate could emerge with a strong showing as the GOP begins to vote for its nominee to challenge Obama.

Mitt Romney at Iowa debate
Mitt Romney.

After a humbling few days in Iowa, Mitt Romney on Sunday returned to his comfort zone in New Hampshire, where he has a home – and a lead.
Coming off of a Saturday night debate in which he was uncharacteristically criticized and with recent polls showing him trailing Newt Gingrich by as much as 13 percentage points in Iowa, Romney stopped at eateries, threw a town-hall meeting, and held a press availability in New Hampshire. He also reminded residents that he’s one of them.
“I am not a creature of Washington. I haven’t been in Washington as a politician, I won’t stay in Washington when my term is over–or terms as the case may be” – he said. “I will go home. I love Lake Winnipesaukee a lot better than I like Washington, I gotta tell you!”
A town-hall crowd of about 150 whistled and applauded as Romney mentioned the tucked-away area where he owns a summer home.
Upon jetting out of Des Moines this morning, Romney made a few retail stops in Milford, N.H., quietly meeting with voters without telling the press. He went to a diner, pizzeria, and town square – where he spoke about jobs with people lined up to meet Santa. He joked: “As a good politician, I saw an opportunity and went up to the front of the line and went down the line.”
Romney then met with voters at a Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter in Hudson Township, where he answered questions mainly on the economy and foreign policy.
“We have in Israel a nation in greater risk than I’ve seen any time in my adult lifetime” – he said, stressing the importance of standing strong with the nation. Romney made no mention of Newt Gingrich, or his comment that Palestinians are an “invented” people, which Romney took issue with in Saturday night’s debate, saying such statements put Israel in danger.

A few hours before last night’s big Republican debate, Newt Gingrich paid a visit to his newly opened, and still largely empty, Iowa campaign headquarters just outside Des Moines in Urbandale. The event was haphazard, something of a shambles, but it had an energy notably lacking at those of Gingrich’s rivals for the GOP presidential nomination — including Mitt Romney, whose appearance at his own HQ earlier in the day was considerably more staid and sparsely attended.
A couple hundred people were crammed into the Gingrich space, and at the end of his brief remarks, the former House speaker observed that they might have noticed in previous debates his routine of scribbling notes immediately upon assuming his place at the podium. Those notes, he explained, consisted of three bullet points – the word “Lincoln,” which Gingrich said was a reminder to speak slowly, as Honest Abe did. The word “smile,” which Gingrich claimed was the advice of one his two “debate coaches” — i.e., his grandchildren, one of whom apparently believes that his often-scowling, Old Testament countenance doesn’t well serve his cause; and the word “simple,” a reflection of the concerns of the other grandtyke, whom Newt told us regards his tendency toward the prolix and “professorial” to be less than politically optimal. No dummies, those kids.
In the event, with the stage lights bright and the cameras live and ABC broadcasting the debate from the campus of Drake University, Gingrich did a decent job of hewing to those guidelines. He maintained an even pace, he snarled rarely, and he left it to Ron Paul to offer a learned disquisition on the Ottoman Empire and its relationship to the provenance of the Palestinian people. whom Gingrich, for the record, continued to insist are an “invented” fiction.

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