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Debates have major impact on GOP presidential race
Debates make riveting TV, expose strengths, weaknesses of Republican presidential contenders
By The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) ' The Republican presidential debates have served up riveting TV and exposed the contenders' strengths and weaknesses. No one has benefited more than Newt Gingrich, whose in-your-face style has excited GOP voters who want a scrappy fighter to take on President Barack Obama in the fall.

At the same time, no one has found himself more boxed in by the format than Mitt Romney. His cautious but generally mistake-free performances earlier in the contest have given way to a string of awkward gaffes and unforced errors, mostly surrounding his income taxes and the vast personal wealth.

Gingrich, Romney, Rick Santorum and Ron Paul were squaring off twice this week before Florida Republicans vote on Jan. 31.

Debates are scheduled for Monday night in Tampa, and Thursday night in Jacksonville.

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