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Romney and Gingrich clash in Florida debate

By Steve Peoples

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 23 2012 7:20 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidates, from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, stand on stage before a Republican Presidential debate Monday, Jan. 23, 2012, at the University of South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

Paul Sancya, Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. — A newly aggressive Mitt Romney charged in campaign debate Monday night that Newt Gingrich "resigned in disgrace" from Congress after four years as speaker and then spent the next 15 years "working as an influence peddler" in Washington.

Gingrich shot back that Romney's attacks were riddled with falsehoods, and he referred to statements by two men who ran against Romney in 2008 in contending the former Massachusetts governor "can't tell the truth."

The clash occurred in the opening moments of the first of this week's two debates before the Jan. 31 Florida primary.

Gingrich trounced Romney in last Saturday's South Carolina contest, an upset that reset the race to pick a rival to President Barack Obama in the fall.

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