PELLA, Iowa (AP) — One by one, five Republican candidates for president took the stage Tuesday in the state that holds the first presidential contest to pitch themselves as the strongest to challenge Democratic President Barack Obama on voters' top issue: jobs.

Absent from the forum was the one Republican who has made that argument central to his second campaign for the White House: Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor, sitting atop most polls and a pile of cash, was in New York raising money.

And businessman Herman Cain took a pass, too, staying in Washington to deal with the fallout of the disclosure of sexual harassment allegations from the 1990s while he was the head of the National Restaurant Association.

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