GOP debate in Iowa: Best quotes out of the night

A summary of the one-liners delivered by Republican candidates in Sioux City, Iowa Thursday night.

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    Republican presidential candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas,at Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011.
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Republican presidential hopefuls competing to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012 faced off in a debate on Thursday in Iowa, where the state-by-state Republican nominating contest kicks off in less than three weeks.

Here are some of their key quotes.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

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Defending his merit as frontrunner:

"I believe I can debate Barack Obama and I think in seven three-hour debates Barack Obama will not have a leg to stand on."

Before answering a question on the Keystone Pipeline, referencing a Mitt Romney suggestion that Gingrich's ideas are "zany.":

"You know I sometimes get accused of using language that's too strong. So I've been standing here editing. I'm very concerned about not appearing to be zany."

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MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR

On how he compares with Gingrich:

"I spent my life in the private sector. I can debate President Obama based upon that understanding. I'll have credibility on the economy when he doesn't. I know what it takes to get this economy going. The president doesn't."

MICHELE BACHMANN, U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN FROM MINNESOTA

On Gingrich's work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac:

"Evidence is that Speaker Gingrich took $1.6 million. You don't need to be within the technical definition of being a lobbyist to still be influence-peddling with senior Republicans."

U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL

On Bachmann calling for stronger U.S. action against Iran:

"You're trying to dramatize this that we have to go and treat Iran like we've treated Iraq ... You cannot solve these problems with war."

On foreign policy:

"I would be a different kind of president. I wouldn't be looking for more power. I as the president wouldn't want to run the world."

On whether he would support the eventual nominee:

"Anybody up here can probably beat Obama."

JON HUNTSMAN

On the state of the country:

"We have been kicked around as people. We are getting screwed as Americans."

RICK PERRY, TEXAS GOVERNOR

Referring to the Denver Bronco's quarterback who has a string of seven wins, almost all coming from behind in the fourth quarter:

"I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses."

On Washington deadlock:

"That's the reason I've called for a part-time Congress. Cut their pay in half. Send them home. Let them get a job like everybody else back home has."

(Compiled by Lily Kuo; Editing by Bill Trott)

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