Clash Of The Frontrunners: 18th GOP Primary Debate Pits Gingrich Against Romney

January 24, 2012 9:41 am ET — Media Matters Action Network

Last night was the NBC News GOP presidential debate in Floriday, the 18th debate of the Republican primary. It was largely dominated by the remarks of frontrunners Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, but the debate topics were varied, touching everything from the merits of sugar cane subsidies to America's Cuba policy.

After losing the South Carolina primary over the weekend, Mitt Romney came out swinging at victor Newt Gingrich, explaining at one point that he'd learned his lesson about staying away from negative campaigning in South Carolina and wouldn't shy away from hitting back from now on. He challenged Gingrich's record as an ethically challenged Speaker of the House in the mid-1990s and showered skepticism upon Gingrich's claims that he hasn't been a working as a lobbyist since leaving Congress.

The candidates also discussed their tax plans. Gingrich said that he wants to bring everyone down to Romney's 15 percent tax rate, but Romney noted that under Gingrich's plan he would pay no tax at all. On the other hand, Romney claimed, his tax plan would help the middle class, even though in reality it would cut rates for millionaires twice as much as for anyone else.

Immigration and foreign policy — namely policy toward Cuba — also took center stage, as Romney highlighted his "self-deportation" immigration plan, and Gingrich took inspiration from the Cold War to craft his answer on how America should deal with the leaders of the Cuban regime.

Watch highlights below the fold.

Gingrich: "I Left The Speakership" Because 1998 Election Results "Weren't As Good As They Should Be"

Gingrich: I Want To Bring Everyone Down To Romney's Tax Rate - But Under The Gingrich Plan Romney Would Pay Zero

Romney Suggests His Tax Plan Will Help The Middle Class

Romney On Florida Foreclosures: "Of Course We Help" Homeowners By Getting Government Out Of The Way

Romney's Immigration Plan: "Self-Deportation"

Romney Attacks Obama's Record On The Economy After Saying Economy Is 'Getting Better' Under Obama

Gingrich's Cuba Policy Would Mimic Cold War Tactics

Gingrich: "Most Economists Agree" We'd Be Worse Off Without Bush Tax Cuts