Key moments in Saturday night’s Republican presidential debate in Des Moines, Iowa:

What’s $10,000 Among Friends?

Mitt Romney challenged Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s claims that the former Massachusetts governor backed a requirement that individuals purchase health care coverage.

“I’m just saying, you’re for individual mandates, my friend,” Perry told Romney during Saturday evening’s debate, returning to a criticism that has dogged Romney’s campaign.

“You’ve raised that before, Rick, and you’re simply wrong,” Romney responded, extending his hand toward Perry. “Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks?”

It was a rich bet that perhaps reminded some voters that Romney has a fat enough bank account to make such wagers. But Perry wasn’t playing.

“I’m not in the betting business,” he said.

Romney’s rivals seized on it. Democrats were giddy about the moment, which they planned to use to cast Romney as an elitist who could afford such lavish bets.

And aides to GOP hopeful Jon Huntsman — himself, the son of a famously wealthy family — announced they planned to criticize Romney on a website:

Romney: Football Dreams Dashed

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich also took on Romney, saying the only reason he wasn’t a lifelong politician is because he came up short in his first campaign.

“Let’s be candid: The only reason you didn’t become a career politician is because you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994,” Gingrich said to Romney.

“Now wait a second,” Romney said.

“I’m just saying,” Gingrich replied.

“It’s a bit much: You’d have been a 17-year career politician by now if you’d won. That’s all I’m saying on that one,” Gingrich continued.

Romney lost his first campaign and returned to the private sector, where he made millions as a venture capitalist, and rescued 2002’s Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

Romney, however, conceded Gingrich’s suggestion — to a point.

“That’s probably true,” Romney said. “If I’d have been able to get in the NFL as I had hoped I could as a kid, why, I would’ve been a football star all my life, too.”

Gingrich On Marital Fidelity:I’m A Grandfather Now

Gingrich also faced tough questions, including about his three marriages — including to wife, Callista, with whom he carried on an extramarital affair while still wed to wife No. 2.

“I think it is a real issue. I think people have to look at the person to whom they are going to loan the presidency,” Gingrich said, while Callista Gingrich sat in the audience. “And they have the right to ask every single question.”

Gingrich has previously acknowledged infidelity.

“I’ve made mistakes at times. I’ve had to go to God for forgiveness. I’ve had to seek reconciliation,” he said Saturday evening. “But I’m also a 68-year-old grandfather and I think people have to measure who I am now and whether I’m a person they can trust.”

Bachmann Kepps 9-9-9 Alive

Rep. Michele Bachmann was the first — and last candidate — on stage to bring up Herman Cain, who recently left the presidential race amid repeated accusations of sexual harassment and an extramarital affair.

It was likely part of a plan to lure some of Cain’s supporters her way.

“One of our former competitors was Herman Cain, and he was always reminding us of the 9-9-9 plan,” Bachmann said early on. “And what I’d like to do is the win, win, win plan.”

She later praised Cain’s contribution to the presidential race while answering her final question of the night.

Gingrich Defends ‘Invented’ Palestinians

Gingrich insisted that an interview where he called Palestinians “invented” was not a mistake. Romney said Gingrich was undermining Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

Gingrich insisted he was factually accurate when he said Palestinians were part of anti-Israel propaganda and that they were historically Arabs.

“Is what I said factually true? Yes,” Gingrich said.

“I spoke as a historian,” he said later.

“That was a mistake, on the speaker’s part,” Romney said of the interview with The Jewish Channel.

“The United States should not jump ahead of Bibi Netanyahu and say something that makes it more difficult for him to do his job,” he added.

Other Key Moments:

— Bachmann tried to link Romney with Gingrich — and paint both as unacceptable to conservatives on issues such as climate change and health care mandates. During one exchange, she branded the pair as “Newt Romney.”

— Sen. Rick Santorum compared his record with Bachmann’s — noting that he, too, fought as a member of the then-minority Republican caucus. His difference: He was able to win political fights, while Bachmann has come up short on her signature issues such as stopping Democrats’ health care overhaul.

— Rep. Ron Paul took pride in often being the lone voice in Congress against legislation. “I end up sometimes, believe it or not, voting all by myself, thinking why aren’t there people paying attention?” the Texan said.

— Huntsman was the evening’s missing man. He did not meet the polling threshold to participate and instead campaigned in New Hampshire, a state he is making central to his strategy.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (23)
  1. Sue says:

    Why all the infighting within both parties? We have high unemployment! The dollar is dropping! Our economy is going to h$ll! Crime is on the rise! China manipulates its currency! Illegals have more rights than Americans! Our own Governor is forcing us to pay for a stadium! We have unelectected County Commission’s raising our taxes! Can someone please tell me what is so great about America? Can someone please tell me how my vote matters? Can someone please explain to me why I should not just pack things up and move?

    1. schwinbentin says:

      @ sue,,,an awakening is happening thru-out the country…we know of goldman sachs employees going to the Fed reserve(a private central bank established 1913 christmas eve with a handful of congress present)and the u.s. treasury dept….we know the huge ponzi schemes in wallstreet…we know the corporate masters and the politicians and banksters in bed with them…millions of decent people still here,and they(big sis,big bro) just might tread too much(like they haven’t allready)…the time of the treasonous,and unconstitutional snakes is about at its end…by the way…lamestream media IS just as guilty against the constitution,also,for not printing the truth,or ther facts that matter

      1. Dale Gribble says:

        Hmmm, big banks, big media, East Coast intellectuals, Wall Street Ponzi schemes. I’m starting to see a pattern here. What do all of these people have in common? Fortunately, Ron Paul, will stand up for White Christian America and not let this other element ruin our Liberty!!! Save White Christian America!!! Vote Ron Paul in2012!!!

  2. j speedbag 64 says:

    bachmann’s not even in the picture…..does this mean her pityful campaign is finally over……

    1. Tom says:

      @ j speedbag 64

      Not in Bachmanns delusional mind it isn’t. Her just as delusional followers feel the same way.

  3. RonPaulforPres says:

    thats right…breifly mention Ron Paul at the bottom of the article…EVERYTHING he says is KEY for the country,eh…lamestream media dont realize when the SHTF they go down with the rest of us…

  4. seeBS says:

    GOP debate and all their interested in is gossip.How pathetic.

  5. marty says:

    How would some of these people survive if family wealth wasn’t passed on from generation to generation. The old saying pull yourself of from your bootstraps dosen’ t apply when you have a family maid putting on your boots. Lets tax the hell out of estates so its a fair game for everyone! Public schools not boarding schools etc., see how these guys can compete by making their own wealth with no inheritance.

    1. Karen says:

      With the exception of Romney, none of these people came from money. What they did do was go to school and work hard. Maybe you should try the same.

    2. Ace says:

      You want to tax me more? I worked hard all my life, invested wisely, saved money. I was a secretary, a bartender, a courier, translator, a typist, working sometimes 12 hour days and I should be penalized? Nobody handed me money, I worked for it fair and square and you want to take away my money and give it to you?

  6. Tom says:

    It was a stupid bet on Romneys part as his health care plan has a mandate and it has been a sucess for MA. But anything that makes sense Conservatives are againest it.

    1. Little Tin God says:

      Romney has flipped and flopped so many times, he has no idea what he is for or against at any given moment. Gingrich is a major sleazebag whose moral compass is is so bent out of shape it simply spins and spins. Paul is an isolationist who would put the country back into a pre-WWI mode. Bachmann should bleach her hair so she would really fit the part of a ditzy blonde. Perry is like Bush, but dumber.

      1. Tom says:

        @ Little Tin God

        Yes Romney has flipped flopped alot. And he doesn’t like the fact he is being called on it.

  7. Citizen says:

    There were no “key” moments. There was just a bunch of old, naked emperors in “new” clothes. The fact that the media and the GOP supporters refuse to report on the collective insanity and asininity of this group is appalling. Bread and circuses ala ancient Rome for the voters, I guess!

    1. Steve says:

      And to think they are all better than what we have today. How did Obama ever get elected/

  8. Robert says:

    I watched the debate and I’m not sure who were the funnier clowns. The clowns on stage or the two clown moderators.

  9. Murph says:

    Having never missed a chance to lie Bachmann of course was Bachmann! Newt kinda acts more like the slimey little creatures he’s named after.The others were just plain ignorant and evasive as usual.OK THEN, it’s time to watch the football game.At least watching that won’t cost us our jobs and homes,and if sick ,our lives.Like the games the Republicans are playing!

    1. Don't Tread on Me says:

      Maybe you should contribute to the sports comment boards instead. Nobody would miss you here. Thanks.

  10. Jacky M says:

    Im going to vote for WHOEVER the media tells me NOT to vote for.

    Ron Paul is the only answer.

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