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article imageGingrich comes under fire at Iowa GOP debate

By JohnThomas Didymus     Dec 11, 2011 in Politics
Des Moines - Newt Gingrich received heavy criticism during a presidential debate Saturday night. GOP presidential runners Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Rick Perry and Michele Bachmann attacked him over a variety of issues, including his personal life.
CBS News reports Mitt Romney fired the first shots in the attacks on Gingrich. He was asked to speak on issues over which he differs from Gingrich. Romney began by drawing laughter from the audience when he said:
"We can start with his idea to have a lunar colony that would mine minerals from the moon."
Romney criticized Gingrich's proposal to eliminate some child labor laws and capital gains taxes for the rich. He also said he was different from Gingrich because he spent his "life in the private sector."
Gingrich had an answer ready for Romney's "life in the private sector." He said: "Let's be candid, the only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994."
Romney said it was true he lost to Tedd Kennedy, but he said "losing to Teddy Kennedy was probably the best thing I could have done for preparing me for the job I'm seeking."
Gingrich drew an applause with his defense of his position on child labor laws. He said he thought it was right to allow poor children replace "unionized janitors" in their schools.
Ron Paul accused Gingrich of inconsistencies, saying he had multiple positions on many issues and that some of his positions were not conservative. According to Paul: "He (Gingrich) supported the TARP (bailout). The other thing really which should annoy a lot of people, he received a lot of money from Freddie Mac." Paul accused Gingrich of receiving taxpayer money from Freddie Mac (Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation).
Bachmann also attacked Gingrich, accusing him of being an "epitome of the establishment" and of taking money to "influence outcome of legislation in Washington." She then lumped Gingrich and Romney as "Newt Romney," alleging that they support "Obamacare" and the "illegal immigration problem."
Gingrich said he had never lobbied for Freddie Mac (The Washington Post says Freddie Mac paid Gingrich $1.6 million to provide strategic advice).
Rick Perry criticized both Romney and Gingrich for supporting individual health care mandate. He said that Romney supported an individual mandate not just for Massachusetts but the entire nation before changing position.
Reuters comments Romney may have hurt himself proposing a $10,000 bet with Texas Governor Rick Perry over the true facts of his (Romney's) position on healthcare. Perry declined the invitation to a bet, saying he "was not in the betting business." Reuters said Americans have criticized Romney for being out of touch with the situation of average Americans in a time of economic hardship.
The issue of Gingrich's personal life came up. The candidates were asked "indirectly" if Gingrich's marital history should be taken against him. Perry said he had "always been of the opinion you cheat on your wife, you cheat on your business partner."
Santorum did not think it should be a disqualifier but he thought it was a significant issue. He said that an individual's private life answers the question, "Who are you really? What is your center? What's your core?"
Gingrich agreed that it was "real issue." He said: "I said up front openly, I've made mistakes at times. I've had to seek reconciliation. I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather. I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I'm a person they can trust."
CBS News expressed the view that in spite of sustained attacks Gingrich defended himself effectively. According to CBS News:
"Newt Gingrich is now clearly the front-runner for the Republican nomination for president...His recent surge stemmed in part because of impressive debate performances and he was clearly at ease on the stage Saturday. Many of his answers showed more depth than his rivals... He also struck Mitt Romney hard in the early part of the debate, telling Romney that the reason he is also not a professional politician is because he lost a 1994 bid to unseat Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy. And, perhaps most significantly, the thrice-married Gingrich had as strong an answer on questions of infidelity as could be expected. He directly addressed the issue, acknowledging mistakes and said he is older and wiser now."
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