Full Transcript: ABC News Iowa Republican Debate

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MITT ROMNEY: Well, of course I don't agree with that. (LAUGHTER) I don't think most people agree with that. Speaker Gingrich has been in government for a long time and we can look at his record, we can look at my record. But really, this is more about-- about us talking about what we believe. And w-- and whether we can lead the country at a time when-- when we need to restore the kind of values that make America the greatest nation on Earth.

We have in Washington a president who believes in a fundamental transformation of America into an entitlement society. Where the government takes for some from some and gives to everybody else. And the only people that do real well in that setting are the people in the government. This nation was founded on the principle of being a merit society, where education, hard work, risk taking, have lifted certain individual, and they have helped lift-- lift the entire nation.

That's what's going on today. And the reason I oughta be the nominee of our party is I believe I can take that message to our president and to the American people. And they'll say, "Mitt Romney understands the economy 'cause he's lived in it." I understand a merit-based society, I believe in the principles that made America the greatest nation on Earth. And Speaker Gingrich and I have a lot of places where we disagree, we'll talk about those--

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Why don't you name them?

MITT ROMNEY: What, places where we disagree? Let's see-- we can start with-- with his idea to-- to have-- a lunar colony that would mine-- minerals from the-- from the moon, I'm not in favor of spendin' that kinda money-- to do that. (LAUGHTER) He said that he would-- he would like to-- eliminate in some cases the child labor laws so that kids could clean schools. I don't agree with that-- that idea.

His plan in capital gains, to remove capital gains for people-- at the very highest level of income is different than mine. I'd-- I'd-- eliminate capital gains, interest, and dividends for people in middle income. So-- we have differences of viewpoint on-- on some issues. But-- but the real difference, I believe, is our backgrounds. I spent my life in the private sector.

I-- I understand how the economy works. And I believe that for Americans to-- 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 and create jobs for the American middle class.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Your response?

NEWT GINGRICH: (THROAT CLEAR) Just a second. You had four allegations, do I get four responses?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Take your time. (LAUGHTER)

NEWT GINGRICH: Okay. Let's start with the last one, let-- let's be candid. The only reason you didn't become a career politician is you lost to Teddy Kennedy in 1994. (LAUGHTER)

MITT ROMNEY: Now-- now wait a second, that-- (AUDIENCE BOOING) I mean you'll-- Okay, go ahead.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: --you'll get another response, go ahead.

MITT ROMNEY: Okay. (LAUGH)

NEWT GINGRICH: Do I-- do I get to-- continue--

MITT ROMNEY: Please, please.

NEWT GINGRICH: No, and I'm just saying, I've-- I looked at it, I thought, you know, I'm a citizen, I've served the country in many ways, you're a citizen, you served the country in many ways. But it's a bit much, you'da been a 17-year career politician by now, if you'd won. That's-- that's all I'm saying on that one.

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