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Bachmann Targets Gingrich in GOP Debate

ABC News(SIOUX CITY, Iowa) -- GOP frontrunner Newt Gingrich would expect his closest rival, Mitt Romney, to criticize him, but the hardest jabs Thursday night at a Republican debate in Sioux City, Iowa, came from Michele Bachmann.

The Minnesota congresswoman blasted Gingrich for being paid as a consultant to the troubled mortgage lender Freddie Mac. Bachmann also criticized Gingrich for lack of leadership when he was House speaker, saying he had a chance to defund Planned Parenthood and “chose not to take it.”  Gingrich responded by saying Bachmann “doesn’t get her facts very accurate.”  Bachmann got the last word, saying that she does get her facts right and that she is a serious candidate for president of the United States.

Gingrich expressed confidence that he should be the Republican Party presidential candidate because he can debate.  Gingrich said, “I believe I can debate Barack Obama and I think in seven three-hour debates, Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on in trying to defend a record that is terrible and an ideology that is radical.”

When asked why he would be a "tougher" candidate than Gingrich to take on President Obama, Romney replied, "I know what it takes to get this economy going.  The president doesn't.  The proof is in his record. It's terrible. My record shows that I can get America working again."

In the final debate by the seven GOP candidates before the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses, Romney criticized President Obama’s handling of the U.S. drone that ended up in Iran and Tehran refuses to return.  Romney called the president’s efforts to retrieve the aircraft “timid.”  The former Massachusetts governor said, “This is a president that...the spy drone being brought down, he says ‘pretty please?’  A foreign policy based on ‘pretty please?’  You got to be kidding.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry also blasted the president for his efforts in retrieving the drone, saying we should have either destroyed it or tried to retrieve it.  Perry said the president “took a third route, which was the worst and the weakest...and that is to do nothing.”

Perry has been trailing Gingrich and Romney in polls lately, but he expressed confidence and compared himself to Tim Tebow, the Denver Broncos quarterback who has engineered several fourth-quarter comebacks this season.  Perry said he hopes he’s the “Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses.”

This was the 13th debate of the primary season.  It was sponsored by the Fox News Channel and the Iowa Republican Party.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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