After allowing frontrunner Mitt Romney to escape relatively unscathed in Saturday night's debate, Romney's opponents were out for blood Sunday morning, in the second debate in less than 10 hours.
Rick Santorum pondered out loud why the former Massachusetts governor didn't run for re-election "if his record was so great?"
Romney said that politics wasn't a career for him, using the moment to tout his business background. He then declared that his time in Massachusetts was to "make a difference," that running again would be about him.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pounced on Romney's claim, telling him to "cut the pious baloney."
“The fact is, you ran in '94 and lost. That's why you weren't serving in the Senate with Rick Santorum. The fact is, you had a very bad re-election rating, you dropped out of office, you had been out of state for something like 200 days preparing to run for president. You didn't have this interlude of citizenship while you thought about what you do. You were running for president while you were governor," he said. "
It wasn't the first time Santorum and Gingrich ganged up on Romney, but they still had their kid gloves on when they sparred with Romney Saturday over his record as a venture capitalist, arguing that during his time in the private sector, he laid off far more than he gave jobs to.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman fired back at Romney for criticizing his time as a Chinese ambassador during Saturday's debate. Romney questioned why Huntsman would promote President Obama's policies (Huntsman was an ambassador under Obama) if he wanted to lead the Republican party.
"The nation is divided...because of attitudes like that," Huntsman said to applause.
Santorum faced more scrutiny himself in Saturday's debate, being the latest "other-than-Mitt" candidate to ascend in the polls--and at exactly the right time, coming within eight votes of Romney in Iowa. CBS reported that the former U.S. Senator acted like he belonged on center stage, and said he held his own under intensified attacks.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose debate performances have been decidedly weak, attempted to separate himself from his opponents by declaring that he had taken positions unpopular in the Republican mainstream--but wildly attractive to the tea party--such as a balanced budget amendment and a part-time Congress.
"There's a bunch of people standing up here that say they're conservative, but the records don't follow up on that," Perry said.
Perry bucked national sentiment Saturday night saying he would support sending troops back to Iraq. Nearly eight in 10 Americans supported Obama’s withdrawal of troops, and a majority of Americans have expressed a desire to see the same in Afghanistan.
Ron Paul and Gingrich got in one of the most heated exchanges of the weekend when Paul accused the former House Speaker of voting to “send kids off to war” while never serving himself.
"Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false," Gingrich said. "I think I have a pretty good idea of what it's like as a family to worry about your father getting killed. And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with. "
“I need one quick follow-up,” Paul retorted. “When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went.”