Discuss as:

GOP rivals try to land punches during NBC/Facebook debate in NH

Charles Krupa / AP

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum reacts as former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney answers a question during a Republican presidential candidate debate at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, N.H., Jan. 8.

NBC's Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro write:

Talk about night and day -- or, more accurately, night and morning. At last night’s GOP presidential debate, Mitt Romney’s rivals largely took a pass at hitting the front-runner for the Republican nomination. But at this morning’s NBC/Facebook debate here, they piled on Romney in the first 30 minutes; the arrows were out from the start. As he has on the campaign trail, Newt Gingrich called Romney a “timid Massachusetts moderate.” Rick Santorum added, “If his record was so great as governor of Massachusetts why didn't he run for reelection?... We want someone who's gonna stand up and fight for the conservative principles, not bail out and not run and not run to the left of Ted Kennedy.” And Jon Huntsman took issue with Romney’s criticism of Huntsman serving as President Obama’s ambassador to China: “This nation is divided … because of attitudes like that.”

Full story: First Thoughts: Rivals pile on Romney

Shannon Stapleton / Reuters

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, looks on as Texas Governor Rick Perry makes a thumbs up gesture as they participate in a Republican presidential candidates debate in Concord, N.H., Jan. 8.