Republican presidential contenders went head-to-head Saturday night for the right to challenge Barack Obama‘s claim to a second term but the target for most in the latest debate but not Obama but current GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich.
Gingrich’s rivals portrayed him as a philandering, adulterous husband, money-grubbing Washington insider and lifetime political opportunist.
“We don’t need folks who are lifetime Washington people,” said former frontrunner Mitt Romney.
“When you’re taking money to influence the outcome of legislation, that the epitome of the establishment,” said Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, referring to Gingrich’s $1.6 million windfall from Freddie Mac.
Texas governor Rick Perry, another former frontrunner whose political fortunes have plummeted from gaffes and poor debate performances, went after Gingrich for cheating on at least two of his three wives.
“I think that issue of fidelity is important. If you’re cheating your wife, you’ll cheat on your business partner,” Perry said.
Gingrich appeared to agree that his adultery was a legitimate issue and told the debate audience that he had “gone to God” for forgiveness.
“People have to measure who I am and whether I’m a person they can trust,” he said.
Perennial presidential contender Ron Paul went after Gingrich for calling PaPalestinians “an invented people.”
“That’s just stirring up trouble. This is how we get into so many messes. I think it just fails us on a little bit of diplomacy,” Paul said.
Gingrich took the attacks in stride and didn’t let the verbal blasts from rivals rattle him.
When Romney called Gingrich a career politician, the former Speaker of the House responded:
“Let’s be candid. The only reasons you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Ted Kennedy in 1004. You’d have been a 17-year career politicians by now if you’d won.”
And, in the end, it was Romney who uttered the line that will most likely be replayed over and over from Saturday night’s debate.
Responding to the often-repeated claim from Perry that he supported a national individual mandate for buy health insurance, Romney offered to bet Perry $10,000 to prove it.
Post-debate analysts immediately pounced on Romney for the challenge, saying most Americans don’t have 10 grand to bet on anything.
- Newt Gingrich To Mitt Romney: You Couldn’t Be A Career Politician If You Tried (VIDEO) (huffingtonpost.com)
- Newt Gingrich Threat To Mitt Romney Rises After Iowa Debate (huffingtonpost.com)
- Romney’s $10,000 bet brings attention he may rue (firstread.msnbc.msn.com)
- Gallup: Gingrich surges, Romney fades, Paul drops (capitolhillblue.com)