(Reuters) - Republican presidential contenders vying to challenge President Barack Obama in 2012 faced off on Monday in Florida where the next Republican nominating contest takes place.
Here are some of their main quotes:
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR
On negative campaigning:
"I'll tell you what I learned something from that last contest in South Carolina and that was I had incoming from all directions. I was overwhelmed with a lot of the attacks, and I'm not going to sit back and get attacked day in and day out without returning fire."
Attacking Gingrich for his work with healthcare companies:
"You can call it whatever you'd like. I call it influence-peddling. It is not right. It is not right. You have a conflict. You are being paid by companies at the same time you're encouraging people to pass legislation which is in their favor."
Attacking Gingrich for his work with mortgage company Freddie Mac:
"You were on this stage, at a prior debate, you said you were paid $300,000 by Freddie Mac as an historian. They don't pay people $25,000 a month for six years as historians. That adds up to about $1.6 million."
"We have to have a president who understands how to get an economy going again. He does not. He plays 90 rounds of golf when you have 25 million people out of work. He says gasoline prices doubled during his presidency. He says don't build a Keystone pipeline."
On releasing his tax returns:
"I agree with my dad on a lot of things, but we also disagree and going out with 12 years of returns is not something I'm going to do. I'm putting out two years, which is more than anyone else on this stage."
"I mean, you'll see my income, how much taxes I've paid, how much I've paid to charity. ... But I pay all the taxes that are legally required and not a dollar more. I don't think you want someone as the candidate for president who pays more taxes than he owes."
On enforcing immigration law:
"The answer is self-deportation, which is people decide they can do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here, and so we're not going to round people up."
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Responding to Romney's criticisms:
"Look, I'm not going to spend the evening trying to chase Governor Romney's misinformation."
Charging Romney for his negative attacks:
"Now, let me be very clear, because I understand your technique, which you used on (John) McCain, you used on (Mike) Huckabee, you've used consistently, OK? It's unfortunate, and it's not going to work very well, because the American people see through it."
On accusations he worked as a Washington lobbyist:
"There is a point in the process where it gets unnecessarily personal and nasty. ... The fact is I have had a very long career of trying to represent the people of Georgia and, as speaker, the people of the United States. I think it's pretty clear to say that I have never, ever gone and done any lobbying."
Attacking Romney's record as governor:
"In 2006 when you chaired the Governors' Association, we lost governorships and in the four years that you were governor, we lost seats in the Massachusetts Legislature. So I think as a party builder, the 20 years I spent building the House Republican Party stands pretty good as an example of leadership."
RON PAUL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS
On running as a third-party candidate:
"I have no plans to do that, no intention and when I have been pressed on it, and they asked me why ... I said, I don't want to, but I haven't been an absolutist."
On U.S. policy toward Cuba:
"I don't like the isolationism of not talking to people ... the Cold War's over and I think we propped up Castro for 40-some years because we put on these sanctions, and (he) only used us as a scapegoat. ... We talked to the Soviets. We talk to the Chinese. ... I don't know why the Cuban people should be so intimidating."
RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR
On the 2008 federal rescue of troubled U.S. banks:
"My question to Governor Romney and to Speaker Gingrich, if you believe in capitalism that much, then why did you support the bailout of Wall Street, where you had an opportunity to allow destructive capitalism to work, to allow a failure of a system that needed to fail because people did things that in capitalism you pay a price?"
"The bottom line is the theocracy that runs Iran is the equivalent of having al Qaeda in charge of a country with huge oil reserves, gas reserves, and a nuclear weapon."
(Compiled By Lily Kuo; Editing by Peter Cooney)