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Gingrich, Romney Spar in New Hampshire

Update from 6:54 a.m. EST with news on Sunday's Republican debate.

CONCORD, N.H. ( TheStreet) -- Republican front-runner Mitt Romney sparred with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Sunday in a televised debate ahead of the New Hampshire primary.

Other candidates tried to stake out their own positions during the event, which came less than 12 hours after the six GOP rivals faced off in nearby Manchester, N.H. in another debate.

Romney repeatedly turned the focus away from his rivals to the Democrat he hopes to battle in general elections in November: President Obama.

Sunday morning's faceoff was the final Republican debate before primary voters go to the polls in New Hampshire on Tuesday.

Romney only narrowly defeated former Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Penn.) in the Iowa caucuses this past week, but the former Massachusetts governor has a strong lead in the New Hampshire polls.

That has left the other five candidates to jockey for second place in order to be the leading contender to Romney going into later state contests, including South Carolina's primary on Jan. 21.

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Gingrich argued heatedly against Romney's description of himself as a businessman, not a career politician.

Romney had said that his "life's passion" has been his faith, family and country, and that he had entered politics because he thought he could make a civic contribution.

But Gingrich shot back, "Could we drop a little bit of the pious baloney?"

The former House speaker then said the former Massachusetts governor had run for Senate in 1994 and then lost and was running for president while he was governor.

"You've been running consistently for years," Gingrich said.

Romney responded by saying that "citizenship has always been on my mind."

Later, the two tangled over attack ads produced by political allies.

Gingrich has complained in the past that charges against him in ads by a super PAC operated by former Romney aides were false.

But in Sunday's debate, Gingrich was asked whether he was being consistent when an organization created by his supporters was preparing to criticize Bain Capital's actions when Romney was at the helm of the investment firm.
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