TPM News

Now this is the Newt Gingrich we were promised last week in Iowa -- the one who promised not to go negative on his Republican opponents even as they dumped millions in negative advertising on the airwaves in Iowa against him.

After Thursday's relatively mild final Republican presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses, Gingrich was all smiles in a spin room interview with Fox's Sean Hannity.

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Fox News host Megyn Kelly asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum if Republicans who are calling on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign over ATF's botched Operation Fast and Furious are politicizing the issue.

"So far, there is no clear evidence Holder knew about the controversial aspects of the operation, and he points out that he actually helped stop it when it came to his attention. Are you and other Republicans politicizing this issue as General Holder claims?" Kelly asked.

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As the GOP candidates lined up for their last debate before voters take to the Iowa caucuses, everyone took their chance to get a last pitch in with some final free airtime.

Everyone's swagger was in abundance and some rocks were thrown at the frontrunner, but now we have to wait until votes are cast before everyone gets together to yell at one another on TV again...

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Mitt Romney took some fairly tough questions from moderator Chris Wallace on his notorious political reinvention at Thursday's debate.

"Governor Romney, you have changed your position in the last ten years on abortion, on gay rights, on guns," Wallace asked. "You say keeping an open mind is a strength. Some of your critics say every one has been to your political advantage. You took liberal positions in Massachusetts but now you take more conservative positions running for president. Is it principle or just politics?"

Romney took issue with the gay rights mention, noting that he had always opposed gay marriage.

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The final debate between Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich before the Iowa Caucuses didn't feature the amount of fireworks between the two men many expected -- or that came the last time the two met on a debate stage in Iowa.

That could be because polling shows Romney has less to worry about when it comes to Gingrich than he did a week ago. Or it could be because Gingrich held his tongue, as he said on the debate stage Thursday.

In either case, the one real moment between the two came when Gingrich made a back-handed jibe at Romney in the latter half of the debate, after nearly 90 minutes of the two men steering clear of each other.

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Michele Bachmann and Newt Gingrich got into an intense sparring match over Gingrich's seven-figure consulting gig with Freddie Mac at Thursday's Iowa debate.

The exchange began after Gingrich was asked by moderator Chris Wallace how he could call for lawmakers who took donations from Freddie Mac to be thrown in jail while accepting $1.6 million from the mortgage giant to help promote their work.

Gingrich argued that because he had secured his work outside of Congress, it was OK.

"They were using power," he said. "I was a private citizen engaged in a business like any other business."

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House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement on a deal to avoid a government shutdown, and are nearing a separate deal on legislation to renew a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, unemployment benefits, and a "doc fix" measure to prevent a steep, automatic pay cut to Medicare physicians.

The breakthrough comes just over 24 hours before funding for the government was set to run out, though the principals continue to squabble over policy measures and payfors attached to the payroll bill.

Democrats have officially dropped their push for a small surtax on millionaires as one means of offsetting the cost of the bill. And it's unclear what they got in return, aside from a pledge from Republicans not to jam Democrats with their partisan payroll tax bill.

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