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The Tim Tebow moment and other takeaways from last pre-Iowa GOP debate (VIDEO)

Rick Perry had a memorable line with his Tim Tebow comment, but Thursday's GOP debate – the last before the Iowa caucuses – didn't exactly offer an electrifying finish. Still, a few jabs hit their mark.

By Staff writer / December 16, 2011

Republican presidential candidates from left, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minn., prepare for last pre-Iowa GOP debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday.

Eric Gay/AP

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Washington

Tim Tebow has arrived. You know you’ve become a cultural force when a presidential candidate wraps himself in your aura and tries to, well, Tebow his way to the Republican nomination.

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The only problem for Rick Perry is that an unorthodox style and a lot of praying may not be enough to turn him into a winner. But in the 13th and final GOP debate before the first nominating contest of the season – the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses – at least the Texas governor came out with a memorable line.

“Let me tell you, I hope I am the Tim Tebow of the Iowa caucuses,” said Governor Perry, relating to the criticism that the Denver Broncos quarterback is “not playing the game right” but manages to win anyway.

Anyone hoping that Thursday night’s debate in Sioux City, Iowa, would feature hail Mary passes and an electrifying finish was probably disappointed. The discussion mostly reworked familiar ground. There were testy moments, but not between the front-runners – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

Mr. Romney played it safe and didn’t go after Mr. Gingrich or anyone else after the $10,000 bet Romney offered Perry in the last debate unleashed a flood of mockery. Romney is letting his surrogates, TV ads, the other candidates, and debate questioners go after Gingrich on his perceived weaknesses.

Chris Wallace, one of the Fox News moderators, obliged by teeing up questions to Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum on Gingrich’s $1.6 million consultancy with controversial mortgage giant Freddie Mac. The result was not Gingrich’s best moment.

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