Newt Gingrich often contends his ability to top President Obama in a debate is a key reason he should become the GOP nominee, but Mitt Romney vowed on Thursday to be aggressive in debating the president as well.
"You have to be able to fight, you have to have the facts on your side. You've got to make sure your message breaks through," Romney said on Fox News' Hannity. "And I'm looking forward to debating President Obama ... This president is on such shaky ground and and his record is so bad, anyone who has any skill of telling the truth and confronting another individual will be able to take [him] to the cleaners."
Romney said that he'd like to debate Obama "as often as possible," noting challengers generally prefer to hold more debates than incumbents.
The former Massachusetts governor also acknowledged that he "misspoke" when he said he isn't concerned about the very poor because they have a safety net, something opponents have used in seeking to attack him as out of touch.
"I wish I wouldn't have said it that way," he said. "I made the same thought part of my speeches over the last year or two, which is that I'm really concerned about middle-income Americans ... But I'm concerned and worried about all Americans. And I want to make sure our safety net is appropriately able to care for our poor."
Appearing separately on Hannity, Gingrich said he remained confident he could regain the momentum he lost after handily beating Romney in South Carolina, only to lose by just as wide a margin in Florida.
Asked how he would do so, he said, "You keep rousing people. We have over 160,000 donors and we have people every day joining us, and 90 percent give less than $250. You develop big issues."
In another separate appearance on Hannity, Rick Santorum said both Gingrich and Romney have "crossed the line" in making personal attacks on Romney's tenure at Bain Capital in which it put companies out of business and Gingrich's consulting work for mortgage giant Freddie Mac.
"I think they crossed the line because they gave the impression that this was somehow, you know, seedy behavior, it's unbecoming of someone who wants to be president and because you owned a company and it went under, you don't care about people, or you went out and helped a company with advice after you were speaker," he said.
Santorum also expressed confidence that he could gain ground on both Romney and Gingrich.
"People are beginning to realize that Mitt and Newt are not that different, that this mud wrestling they have been involved in is not going to be good for either of them as far as contrasting with Barack Obama," he said.
Show host Sean Hannity said the fourth GOP candidate, Rep. Ron Paul, was invited to appear on the show but declined.