Romney Says He'll Debate Gingrich If They're Only Candidates Left

Tuesday, 03 Jan 2012 05:23 AM

By Hiram Reisner

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Mitt Romney says former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is not the only presidential contender targeted in negative ads — supporters of President Barack Obama have been taking aim at the former Massachusetts governor as well. Romney also told Fox News’ Sean Hannity Monday he will be willing to debate Gingrich if they are the last two GOP contenders standing, but until then, there are other hopefuls involved.
 
“There are lots of ads out there [being] run against me, as you know, from different campaigns. And the first one that started off was the one run by the Democratic National Committee — they ran an ad attacking me,” Romney said. “They are going after me — they’re following me: I wish we could all play by some kind of rules like playing game of Monopoly. But this is a campaign. I expect the Obama people to come after me very aggressively if I am the nominee — I hope to be — and I’m ready to fight back.

“I’m not going to sit back and say: We’re not going to have a campaign that describes the differences between myself and Barack Obama,” Romney continued. “And in this early process, look, I wish we didn’t have PACs — I wish campaigns could raise all the money they needed without having these independent entities — but that is the way the law has been set up. And we are going to play by the rules.”

Hannity then asked Romney about Gingrich’s debate challenge and why the former Massachusetts governor has so far declined the offer.

“We had what: 10 or 12 debates so far? We have had a chance to debate. I have done well in some — he has done well in some,” Romney said. “If we end up as the two finalists, then we’ll probably end up debating one-on-one. But right now, we are not the two finalists.

“When Ronald Reagan said: ‘Hey, I paid for this microphone,’ he was saying: ‘Look, the other people who are credible candidates, they have every right to be here,” he continued. “And right now, at least according to the polls here in Iowa, the other leaders would be [Rick] Santorum and [Ron] Paul — not Gingrich. So, why would I do a one-on-one with Gingrich?”

Hannity then noted that many polls have Romney leading in Iowa and asked how the presidential hopeful would define success in the state.

“Well, if the polls turned out to be close to being true — which is we are all clamped together — three people were at the top,” Romney said. “I’d love to be number one — anyone would be — but coming in second or third is fine. If we are close together, it would give all three of us a real boost as we go into New Hampshire and as we go into South Carolina, and Florida. So, my guess is if the polls are right, three folks are going to have some supercharged coming out of Iowa.”

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