Jan. 8 - Republican front runner Mitt Romney came under attack in the final New Hampshire debate before voters go to the polls. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~*USA/CNN/AOL/YAHOO/INTERNET/WIRELESS* **~ Taking aim at the front runner. Republican presidential candidates were given one last chance to pounce on front-runner Mitt Romney in a televised debate Sunday, just two days before New Hampshire voters head to the polls. Romney defended himself as "a solid conservative" who was in politics as a detour from his business career as a venture capitalist. He kept his focus more on President Barack Obama rather on his Republican rivals. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR MITT ROMNEY SAYING: "I happen to believe that if we want to replace a lifetime politician like Barack Obama ... we've got to choose someone who is not a lifetime politician, who has not spent his entire career in Washington." Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich did not buy it (SOUNDBITE) (English) FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NEWT GINGRICH SAYING: "Can we drop a little bit if the pious baloney. The fact is you ran in 94 and lost that's why you weren't serving tin the Senate with Rick Santorum. The fact is you had a very bad reelection rating you dropped out of the race You had been out of state for about 200 das trying to run for President. You didn't have this interlude of citizen ships while you thought about what to do you were running for president while you were governor You wearer gone all over the country. You were out of state consistently. You then promptly entered politics, you happen to lose to McCain. As you had lost to Kennedy. Now you are back running. You have been running consistently for year sand years and years so this idea that suddenly citizenship showed yup in your mind . Just level with the American people. you have been running at least since the 1990s. " Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who skipped Iowa, placing his bet on New Hampshire defended his record serving as President Obama's ambassador to China (SOUNDBITE) (English)FORMER UTAH GOVERNOR JON HUNTSMAN SAYING: "I was criticized last might by Governor Romney, for putting my country first. And I just want to remind the people of New Hampshire and people throughout the United States...he criticized me while he was out raising money. for serving my country in China, yes under a democrats, like my two sons are doing in the United States NAvy , they are not asking what the political affiliation of the President is, I want to make this clear to New Hampshire an the country, I will always pout my country first." Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania has been riding a wave of popularity after a narrow second-place finish to Romney in Iowa last week, appeared to focus his attacks on Texas congressman Ron Paul. (SOUNDBITE) (English)FORMER SENATOR RICK SANTORUM SAYING: "He's never really passed anything of importance. He's never been able to accomplish anything. He has no track record. He's been out there on the margins." Opinion polls show Romney holds a wide lead in New Hampshire, which holds its first in the nation primary election Tuesday. He also leads in South Carolina, the next state in the nominating process. Deborah Lutterbeck, Reuters