(Reuters) - Republican presidential hopefuls competing for the chance to take on U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012 debated one another in Iowa on Saturday, where the state-by-state Republican nominating contest kicks off in less than a month.
Here are some of their main quotes.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
Defending his statements on the Middle East, including comment that the Palestinians are an "invented" people:
"Sometimes it's helpful to have a president of the United States with the courage to tell the truth just ... as Ronald Reagan who went around his entire national security apparatus to call the Soviet Union an evil empire. Reagan believed in the power of truth. I'm a Reaganite, I'm proud to be a Reaganite, I will tell the truth."
"Let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy (in Massachusetts Senate election) in 1994."
On how he would create jobs:
"It starts very simply, taxes, lower taxes, less regulation, an American energy plan and actually be positive about people who create jobs."
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR
Refuting Rick Perry's claim he supported individual mandates for healthcare:
"You know what, you've raised that before, Rick and you're wrong. ...I'll tell you what, 10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet."
On his differences with Gingrich:
"The real difference I believe is our backgrounds. ... I spent my life in the private sector. I understand how the economy works and I believe that for Americans to say goodbye to President Obama and elect a Republican they need to have confidence that the person they're electing knows how to make this economy work again."
"With regards to the idea that if I'd have beaten Ted Kennedy I could have been a career politician that's probably true. If I would have been able to get in the NFL like I hoped as a kid, I would have been a football star all my life. I spent my life in the private sector. Losing to Teddy Kennedy was probably the best thing I could have done."
Criticizing Gingrich's statement on Palestinians:
"Before I make a statement of that nature, I get on the phone with my friend (Israeli Prime Minister) Bibi Netanyahu and say, 'Would it help if I said this?' I'm not a bomb thrower. Rhetorically or literally."
RICK PERRY, TEXAS GOVERNOR
On Romney's healthcare reform in Massachusetts:
"The fact of the matter is, you're for individual mandates and you can get up and stand up and talk about, I'm against it now ... but the record is very clear, you and Newt were for individual mandates and that is the problem."
On marital infidelity:
"I've always been of the opinion that if you cheat on your wife, you'll cheat on your business partner. I think that issue of fidelity is important."
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE RON PAUL
On Gingrich's work with the Freddie Mac mortgage giant:
"You're a spokesman for them and you received money ... and I think this is something the people ought to know about, that there's been many positions, and you have admitted many positions where you have changed positions."
U.S. REPRESENTATIVE MICHELE BACHMANN
On personal religious views:
"Who are you really? What is your center? What's your core? What's your worldview, what drives you? And so people want to know what's your faith. I'm a Christian. I'm unashamed and unapologetic about that."
(Compiled by Lily Kuo; Editing by Peter Cooney)