Two-Man Race? All Eyes on Gingrich, Romney in Iowa

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The Republican presidential candidates are looking beyond Christmas for their big gift this year. 

With the Iowa caucuses scheduled for Jan. 3, the GOP contenders spent their weekend focused on voters in Iowa.

All Eyes on Gingrich, Romney

Saturday night in Des Moines brought a smaller GOP field of candidates and a different face-off in the middle between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Neither man disappointed.

"The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994," Gingrich told Romney.

"That's probably true. If I would have been able to get in the NFL when I was a kid, I would have been a football star all my life, too," Romney fired back.
 
As the two men garnered most of the attention, Iowa straw poll winner Rep.

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Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., worked to paint the two frontrunners as one.

Click play to watch the updated CBN News report followed by analysis from Charles Dunn, Regent University distinguished professor of government.

"If you look at Newt-Romney, they were for 'Obamacare' principles," Bachman pointed out. "If you look at Newt-Romney, they were for cap and trade. If you look at Newt-Romney, they were for the illegal immigration problem."

"And if you look at Newt-Romney, they were for the $700 billion bailout, and you just heard Newt-Romney is also with Obama on the issue of the payroll extension," she argued.
 
Bachmann even had them answering in unison about repealing the president's health care law.
 
"Do we honestly believe that two men who have just stood on this stage and defended 'Romneycare' when it was put in place in Massachusetts and the individual mandate when he proposed it in 1993 -- are they honestly going to get rid of it in 2012?" Bachmann asked, drawing a simultaneous "yes" from her two opponents.

Awkward Exchange

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who's struggling in the polls, took a jab at Romney, resulting in an awkward confrontation.

"I'm just saying, you were for an individual mandate, my friend," the Texas governor told Romney.

"You've raised that before, Rick, and..." Romney started to reply.

"It was true then," Perry interrupted. "And it's true now."

"I'll tell you what, $10,000 bucks? $10,000 bet?" Romney challenged, offering his hand in a wager.

"I'm not in the betting business, but I'll show you the book," Perry said.

"Okay, I've got the book. I wrote the book," Romney replied.

Gingrich on Defense

Perry also went after Gingrich, bringing up his past marital infidelities.
 
"If you will cheat on your wife, if you will cheat on your spouse, then why wouldn't you cheat on your business partner? Or why wouldn't you cheat on anybody for that matter," Perry challenged the former House speaker.

"People make mistakes, and you are held accountable to those mistakes, and the public will listen to what the circumstances (are) and make their decision. But certainly it's a factor," Rick Santorum interjected.

Gingrich, anticipating such an attack, stuck to his go-to answer.

"I've made mistakes at times," Gingrich said. "I've had to go to God for forgiveness. I've had to seek reconciliation. But I'm also a 68-year-old grandfather, and I think people have to m

easure who I am now."

Gingrich also found himself on the defensive about his comment regarding the Palestinians being an 'invented' people.

"The people in those regions should be dealing with those problems. We shouldn't be dealing with these things," Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, countered.

A Two-Man Race?

Even though more than half the voters haven't made up their mind, national polls show a clear Gingrich vs. Romney battle.
 
Gingrich is leading in the early states of Iowa, South Carolina, and Florida, while Romney is ahead in New Hampshire.

For months, the Romney campaign trained their attacks on President Obama, but now they're going after Gingrich.

One of his television commercials contrasts Romney's secure married life with Gingrich's troubled one without mentioning Gingrich by name.
 
"I think people understand that I'm a man of steadiness and constancy," Romney says in the TV spot. "I don't think you're going to find somebody who has more of those attributes than I do. I've been married to the same woman for 25 - excuse me, I'll get in trouble - for 42 years."

For his part, Gingrich isn't going negative just yet. Instead, he's staying positive with television campaign, preaching optimism about the future of America.

"Some people say the America we know and love is a thing of the past," Gingrich says one of his commercials. "I don't believe that."
 
However, eventually Gingrich will be forced to respond to Romney's charges.

How he handles the onslaught from Romney and his other critics will go a long way in determining whether he can become the Republican nominee.

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