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Presidential debate turns into Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Republicans

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“You lose all your standing from my perspective, because you hired illegals in your home,” he said, calling Romney’s immigration policy “the height of hypocrisy.”

Romney countered that he’s “never hired an illegal in my life,” and added that “it is hard in this country as an individual homeowner to know if people who are contractors, working at your home, have hired people who are illegal.”

Romney got into bickering matches with both men, repeatedly calling on them to stop talking so he could defend himself.

“This has been a tough couple debates for Rick,” he said at one point, in calling for Perry to let him answer. “I understand that, you’re going to get a bit testy.”

The debated, hosted by CNN and the Western Republican Leadership Conference and moderated by Anderson Cooper, featured a format that allowed for a rebuttal from any candidate directly attacked and encouraged such exchanges. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich took issue with it at the end, saying that “maximizing bickering probably isn’t the road to the White House.”

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