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Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks with Former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney during the first New Hampshire Republican presidential debate at St. Anselm College in Manchester, N.H., Monday, June 13, 2011. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

WASHINGTON (AP) — If Tim Pawlenty, Newt Gingrich and other Republican presidential hopefuls feel they need to close the gap on front-runner Mitt Romney, they didn’t show it at the New Hampshire debate.

Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who leads in the early polls and fundraising efforts, had a surprisingly easy two hours Monday night. He looked calm and steady, criticizing President Barack Obama on the economy and health care while rarely being forced on the defensive despite some well-known vulnerabilities of his own.

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