GOP Challengers Go After Romney in Sunday Debate

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) Sunday’s debate began much the same way as Saturday night’s, with Gingrich saying Romney was a “relatively timid Massachusetts moderate” whose state ranked fourth from the bottom in job creation when he was governor.

But confronted with one of his campaign leaflets declaring Romney to be unelectable against President Barack Obama, Gingrich hedged. “I think he’ll have a very hard time getting elected.”

Romney said he had created more jobs in one state than Obama has in the entire country, adding that it was important to replace “a lifetime politician” like the president with a different type of leader.

Santorum, too, took a swipe at Romney, asking why he hadn’t sought re-election as governor after one term.

“Why did you bail out? And the bottom line is, I go fight the fight,” Santorum said, referring to his time in Congress in the House of Representatives from a blue-collar district.

Romney jabbed back with a reference to Santorum’s lucrative career in the six years since he lost a re-election campaign in 2006.

“I long for the day when instead of having people to go to Washington for 20 to 30 years, will get elected and then when they lose office, they stay there and make money as lobbyists or conducting their businesses.

“I think it stinks,” Romney said.

Moments later, Gingrich appeared irked and accused Romney of using more than his allotted time to respond.

“I realize the red light doesn’t mean anything to you because you’re the front-runner.”

“Could we drop a little bit of the pious baloney. The fact is you ran in `94 and lost (to Ted Kennedy). … You were running for president while you were governor. … You’ve been running consistently for years.”

Read more at the Associated Press.