Santorum, Romney Spar Often
Republican candidates debate in Arizona
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 22, 2012 7:02 PM CST
Updated Feb 22, 2012 8:57 PM CST
Ron Paul, Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney, and Newt Gingrich before the debate.   (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
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(Newser) – The Republicans went back at it tonight in an Arizona debate, with the stakes seemingly higher than usual given next week's primaries in Michigan and Arizona. Much of the live coverage centered on the frequent sparring between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum:

  • "The two Republicans not only attacked each other on their policy differences, but sniped with a level of sarcasm that exceeded what viewers have seen in previous debates. After Santorum delivered an extended critique of Romney’s record on taxes, Romney bit back: 'I didn’t follow all that.'" Politico
  • Santorum got booed more than once, generally when he was explaining that he voted for something (such as No Child Left Behind) that he didn't agree with because the party leadership asked him to do so. New York Times
  • Romney's line about Santorum, in regard to earmarking in Congress: "While I was fighting to save the Olympics, you were fighting to save the Bridge to Nowhere." MSNBC
  • Ron Paul, asked why he referred to Santorum in an ad as a "fake" conservative, replied simply, to laughter: "Because he's fake." Santorum then showed him his hands to prove he's real. Added Paul: "I find it really fascinating that when people are running for office they're really fiscally conservative." Huffington Post
  • In his intro, Newt Gingrich said his energy policies would fix Obama's policies and bring about $2.50 gasoline. Washington Post
  • What did Romney mean at CPAC when he called himself a "severely conservative" governor? "Severe, strict," he said. "I was without question a conservative governor in my state." Associated Press
  • Asked to describe themselves in one word: Paul said "consistent"; Santorum, "courage"; Romney, "resolute"; and Gingrich ... "cheerful."