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Republican Frontrunner Gingrich Defends 'Electability' in Last Debate

Republican presidential candidates from left, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., participate in a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Dec.

The latest frontrunner in the race for the Republican Party presidential nomination, Newt Gingrich, has defended his electability during the final debate before the drawn-out selection process begins. The debate was hosted by the Fox News cable news network.

Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich was placed at the center of the stage Thursday night, during the 13th Republican debate this year, in Sioux City, Iowa.

Relishing his position as the most recent Republican frontrunner, Gingrich said he would have no problem going one on one in debates against the incumbent Democratic President and 2012 candidate Barack Obama.

“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,” Gingrich said.

The former history professor got frequent rounds of applause as he answered questions concerning the struggling state of the economy, illegal immigration, foreign policy and restricting abortions.

He defended himself against criticism for the $1.6 million he recently made from the government-backed mortgage company Freddie Mac, which was caught up in the debilitating U.S. housing crisis. Gingrich said he still believed in trying to make housing affordable for Americans.

When debates began in May, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was the early favorite, viewed by many American political pundits as the Republican with the best shot to defeat President Obama in the November 2012 presidential election.

Except for his four years as governor, Romney spent his career in business and management, which he said made him the strongest candidate during the Fox News debate.

“I spent my life, my career in the private sector. I understand by the way from my successes and failures, what it is going to take to put Americans back to work with high paying jobs," Romney noted. "I can debate Barack Obama based upon that understanding. And I will have the credibility on the economy when he does not.”

Romney also called President Obama timid and weak in foreign policy. He defended himself during questions over his evolving views on social issues and gun laws, saying his principles have remained the same.

The latest candidate to surge in recent polls heading into the January 3 caucuses in the midwestern state of Iowa is Texas Congressman Ron Paul.

Paul told Fox News moderators that he was unique in the crowded Republican field.

“I have something different to offer. I emphasize civil liberties. I emphasize a pro-American foreign policy which is a lot different than policeman of the world,” Paul said.

The other candidates in the debate were Texas Governor Rick Perry, former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum and Minnesota Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, all of them struggling in most polls.

After Republican voters attend caucus meetings in Iowa to express their preference in less than three weeks, the party’s nomination race will quickly speed up with primary votes in the states of New Hampshire, South Carolina and Florida before the end of January.