Gingrich Prime Focus Of Rivals In Latest Debate

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) -- Newt Gingrich has leapfrogged Mitt Romney to become the GOP front-runner and prime target of his rivals at their latest presidential debate less than a month before the lead-off vote to determine President Barack Obama's challenger.

Expect direct criticism of his record from fellow Republicans on Saturday night who are aware that Gingrich has climbed to the top largely because of his earlier debate performance.

Romney, the earlier leader in national polls, has responded with an aggressive attack on the former House speaker, trying to raise questions about Gingrich's leadership, judgment and party loyalty.

Gingrich stirred up trouble for himself right before the debate, intended to focus on the federal budget deficit, when he told a Jewish cable channel that Palestinians are an "invented" people and are really Arabs who chose not to live elsewhere.

His campaign clarified the comments, released Friday, by saying that Gingrich supports a negotiated peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing," according to a statement Saturday.

The fast-developing Gingrich-Romney rivalry threatened to overshadow the four other candidates scheduled to attend the debate at Drake University: Reps. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota and Ron Paul of Texas, along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

It was the 12th debate of the Republican nominating campaign, the first since businessman Herman Cain suspended his campaign a week ago, and the 11th that both Romney and Gingrich attended.

Gingrich has emerged as the leader in Iowa and some other early-voting states after his campaign nearly disintegrated last summer. Paul and Romney are next in Iowa polls.

The policy-minded former college professor, has used the steady stream of nationally televised debates to gain momentum while challengers of the moment to Romney's establishment campaign have risen then fallen throughout the summer and fall.

For most of the week, Romney assigned surrogates to highlight Gingrich's criticism of important parts in the House budget blueprint. Romney weighed in himself Friday, noting Gingrich's support for ideas such as mining the moon.

Romney suggested Gingrich's background as a Washington insider would be a liability, a theme Gingrich might expect at the debate and in the weeks ahead of the Jan. 3 caucuses in Iowa.

"We're very different people, my background and his. We followed very different paths," Romney told The Des Moines Register editorial board. "And someone who has spent their time in the private sector has by far the best chance of defeating the president."

Bachmann has called Gingrich an "influence peddler." Santorum has criticized Gingrich's record in Congress. Perry has hit his support for a national insurance mandate in the 1990s. Paul is running an ad accusing Gingrich of "serial hypocrisy."

Romney supporters have begun describing Gingrich as self-serving and untrustworthy, assessments Romney said he stood by during the Register interview. They said Gingrich has a tendency for off-the-cuff remarks aimed at promoting his own policy acumen or stirring controversy, and that Romney's disciplined message would help keep the focus on Obama's handling of the economy.

Romney's strategy with Gingrich is beginning to mirror what his campaign did with Perry, who entered the race in August and immediately rose to the top of polls.

Ahead of debates, Romney's team rolled out new attacks on Perry, first on some of the governor's comments on Social Security and then on his immigration record. Romney also delivered those attacks himself in two debates.

Romney has turned in a series of strong debate performances. He's made few mistakes and hasn't been repeatedly attacked by his rivals.

But it's Gingrich's performances that voters have noticed.

In a Des Moines Register poll released in early December, 50 percent of likely caucus-goers said Gingrich is the best debater. Romney was a distant second with 14 percent.

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  • by Lavon Location: Goldsboro on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:23 PM
    Look I know you Repugs are desperate to find a candidate but to actually think Newt can beat Obama is just foolish.
    • reply
      by Raymond on Dec 11, 2011 at 09:40 PM in reply to Lavon
      Yosemite Sam , Would would beat our Golfer N Chief in any election.
      • reply
        by Lavon on Dec 12, 2011 at 05:28 AM in reply to Raymond
        According to who?
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil Co on Dec 12, 2011 at 06:39 AM in reply to Lavon
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 13, 2011 at 04:59 PM in reply to Raymond
        The majority of the polls indicate Obama will win re-election.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:23 AM
    Newt has a proven record of accomplishments in the House. Is he perfect, no. Is obama perfect, certainly not. Which is the less of two evils ?? Newt 100% In 3 years my food costs have gone up 50%, my electricity bill is higher, my fuel bill is higher, my cost of goods are higher, UPS just raised their rates by 6%..... can we really afford 4 more years of obama ???? Everything he talks about in the future is higher costs to those of us that work, higher taxes, no new drilling for oil, EPA regulations, free money give aways, the list goes on and on. I can't afford obama for 4 more years and will vote for ANYONE that runs against him.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:04 AM in reply to
      You should have done that back in 2000 when Bush was elected. If you hadn't voted for that imbecile back then, maybe we all would have been better off.
    • reply
      by Good luck with that one..... on Dec 11, 2011 at 09:12 AM in reply to
      Accomplishments?....he was KICKED OUT BY HIS OWN PARTY! Now that's an accomplishment he should be proud of. History is about to repeat itself. Newt will lose once more baggage comes out. His OWN PARTY got rid of him when he was the speaker of the house. I think Newt will start losing support in the next couple of weeks, as more facts come out.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:06 PM in reply to Good luck with that one.....
        fair enough. you have your views, I have mine. We'll see how America feels about it in one year.
        • reply
          by read em and weep on Dec 13, 2011 at 05:02 PM in reply to
          News flash...Its not going to take one year, I give Newt 3 months tops! You guys have better start looking for another candidate.....real fast.
      • reply
        by Lavon on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:18 PM in reply to Good luck with that one.....
        My electric bill hasn't gone up
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 12, 2011 at 05:38 AM in reply to Lavon
          Of course not Lavon, food and gas hasn't gone up either....
  • by Barlow Location: Winterville on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:32 AM
    I don't understand why they keep having these debates. What is that a dozen now? All they are doing is giving the Democrats more and more ammunition by showing what inept fools they are. Honestly, who among them would you like to see as Leader of the Free World? One is too stupid, the next is a money grubbing hypocrite, and some are both. I mean quit humiliating yourselves, sit down and shut up already.
  • by Stir-crazy Location: Washing on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:26 AM
    Ron Paul speaks the truth. Look him up! Give him more of a chance than the media!
  • by Vine Location: Washington on Dec 10, 2011 at 10:01 PM
    Nobody knows Washington like Newt does. He can beat about anyone in a debate, hands down. Like him or not, he's probably going to get the nod. I believe his strategy has been to purposely lay low until voting starts in January. That way he can build a surge and win the nomination before the stuff hits the fan and his popularity goes down. Don't you Dems worry though, Hillary will likely be the VP pick for Obama's 2nd term. Just predictions on my part, but what do I know??
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:38 AM in reply to Vine
      His past baggage and ethics are still going to be an issue. Just like Cain, he can run but he cannot hide from it. People are not as gullible as the were doing Newts earlier days.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil Co on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:49 AM in reply to
        Nope, thats not on the table anymore, just ask the Iowa straw polls. Its not an issue anymore.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:10 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
          I don't think Newt will survive another 3 months, as soon as the ads come out about his shady past, he is toast. Most of the older politicians know Newts background, and its not anything to be proud of.
        • reply
          by Barlow on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:39 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil Co
          Its not an issue with Repugs because you don't care about honesty, integrity or any of those "family values" anymore. Snoot was for sale to the highest bidder. An excellent Repugnant, but not someone who should represent the US as president.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:13 AM in reply to
        on a positive note, obama can't hide from his past 3 years either.... as he did his past before he became president.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 13, 2011 at 05:05 PM in reply to
          Ummmmmm can't say anything good about Gingrich eh??? So dish on Obama. Now that's intelligent.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 15, 2011 at 06:01 PM in reply to
          actually "dish" on obama is not the term I would have used... it is a four letter word though, starts with S.
  • by Luke Location: USA on Dec 10, 2011 at 09:39 PM
    BOSTON (AP) — Police officers swept through Dewey Square early Saturday, tearing down tents at the Occupy Boston encampment and arresting dozens of protesters, bringing a peaceful end to the 10-week demonstration.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:30 AM in reply to Luke
      Ummmmm why are local officials so obsessed with breaking up these people? All they are doing is making them stronger, We will not forget come election time.
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:51 AM in reply to
        Stronger? Ahh, good luck with that. The number of kids and libterds that showed up to the events was 0.00001% of voters.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:16 AM in reply to Obama Snake Oil co
          That's about 10 times more supporters than the TeaParty. Tea Party/GOP support has fallen sharply since last year....I wonder why? Winky wink!
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:14 AM in reply to
        it's called upholding LAW. You know, the laws that everyone must obey. Please go try and set up a tent on your public commons, see if they don't boot you also. It's no different.
      • reply
        by Drew on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:59 AM in reply to
        Opinion no facts Anonymous?
  • by Omar Location: NC on Dec 10, 2011 at 09:31 PM
    Has anyone you know did or ever has been employed by a Hussein job stimulas plan job? Did You? or anybody Please reply? Gas is at over $3.00 a gallon for years now! Even buy , Milk , Bread , Eggs at the store cost you more. This is Obama's to you Hope N Change
    • reply
      by Johnson on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:25 AM in reply to Omar
      Gas was over $4.00 per gal under Bush! Did you forget that tid-bit of info?
      • reply
        by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:53 AM in reply to Johnson
        Yes, it was, did you forget its now been over 3 dollars for years? Apparently. The rise in gas prices was very short lived during Bush, he did something about it. Obama's nothing and cave to envirionmentalists.
      • reply
        by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:15 AM in reply to Johnson
        Gas was $ 1.70 when Bush left office. Get your lies straight.
      • reply
        by Ferg on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:50 AM in reply to Johnson
        The day G W Bush left office the gas price was $1.61 per gallon. Refer to US gas price charts , Johnson
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 06:51 AM in reply to Ferg
          What about the other 95 months? You left those out.
        • reply
          by Barlow on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:49 AM in reply to Ferg
          Gas was the highest it's ever been while Bush was in officer, well over $4/gallon. I didn't have a chart, just an empty wallet.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:15 PM in reply to Ferg
          Barlow on Dec 11, 2011 at 10:49 AM, being you don't have a chart or just want to ignore the truth, I'll post some historical prices for you. Dec. 2005 - $ 2.11/gal, Dec. 2006 - $ 2.28/gal, Dec. 2007 - 2.95/gal, Dec. 2008 - $ 2.16/gal, Dec. 2009 - $ 2.61/gal, Dec. 2010 - $ 3.05/gal, Dec. 2011 - $ 3.30/gal. Yes, gas was over $ 3.37/gal from April 2008 through the max of $ 4.12 in July of 2008. April - July then is started falling, all the way down to $ 1.61 in Dec. 2008. obama has had HIGHER long term gas prices than Bush did. Facts don't lie... only Barlow lies.
  • by Mandy on Dec 10, 2011 at 06:32 PM
    Gingrich's incendiary remarks about Palestinia­ns as an "invented people" are going to cause him a lot of trouble. The Israeli government is distancing itself from his position and the Palestinia­ns are outraged. He may have finished his candidacy earlier than expected. The best thing for the GOP is to get him off the stage as quickly as possible, otherwise the whole campaign will be about Newt and not about Obama as they are hoping. Now each of the other candidates will have to try to repudiate what he has said without losing Jewish support. It ought to be fun to watch.
    • reply
      by David on Dec 10, 2011 at 07:53 PM in reply to Mandy
      Obama lost the American Democrat Jewish vote. When he ousted the prime minister!
      • reply
        by David on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:33 AM in reply to David
        We still feel President Obama has our interest at hand more than his GOP challengers.
        • reply
          by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:55 AM in reply to David
          This isn't about Obama anymore, get that into your head, he is one and done, one term guy. All the polls confirm it, its about who and which GOP runner up will be the next president of the US. We want to make sure we get a leader in the whitehouse in 2012.
        • reply
          by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 05:15 AM in reply to David
          speak for yourself David, no we don't.
    • reply
      by Abe on Dec 10, 2011 at 08:06 PM in reply to Mandy
      Palestinia­ns? How many are voters here compared to we Jews?
    • reply
      by Joshua on Dec 10, 2011 at 09:15 PM in reply to Mandy
      Rebuttal to - Mandy on Dec 10, 2011 at 09:32 PM Gingrich's incendiary remarks about Palestinia­ns as an "invented people" are going to cause him a lot of trouble? The Terrroist , The Palestine Liberation Organization? How Many Jews have they murderd!
  • by George on Dec 10, 2011 at 06:30 PM
    What has happened to the Republicat­ion Party, is Newt and the other candidates really the best they can come up with? Please I beg you come up with someone else, somebody with real intelligen­t answers to today’s problems and someone that is moral and has a clean steady record of doing what’s good and right for the American people. His own party censured him for ethics violations­. If this is the best they can do it says something.
    • reply
      by Obama Snake Oil co on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:57 AM in reply to George
      We have seen the morality with those in DC right now. No matter what happens, it will be one of these GOP contenders. To speak of morality when we had a Bill Clinton and John Edwards around, even they can be forgiven.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 10, 2011 at 06:25 PM
    Newt recently said President Obama was appeasing our enemies. I loved Obama's response, "Just ask the 22 out of 32 most wanted terrorists we've taken down about that."
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