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US Republicans Debate in Iowa

Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, right, during the Republican debate, in Des Moines, Iowa, December 10, 2011.
Republican presidential candidates former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, left, and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, right, during the Republican debate, in Des Moines, Iowa, December 10, 2011.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate hopefuls held a debate Saturday in the central U.S. city of Des Moines, Iowa - the state that will hold the party's first nominating event in less than a month.  

Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives, has recently emerged as the front-runner in the race.  

Gingrich's main rival, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, described Gingrich as a Washington insider who does not have the background to fix the sputtering U.S. economy.

Gingrich described himself as a politician with a clear record of results who could get the job done.

He also reiterated his comment from earlier in the week when he said Palestinians were an "invented" people. He went a step further Saturday, calling Palestinians "terrorists," saying "They teach terrorism in their schools."

Saturday's debate comes less than a month ahead of the Republican party's first nominating event for the 2012 presidential election.

The candidates' discussion included their outlooks on foreign policy, immigration and health care.

The Iowa debate was the first since former front-runner Herman Cain suspended his campaign a week ago amid allegations of sexual impropriety.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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