Nightly News | November 20, 2011
>> politics now, a softer side, we don't often see on the campaign trail, gathered close around a table, six of the republican candidates shared personal stories of tragedy and losses that they have endured. several of them getting emotional, even tearing up at times. nbc's mike viqueira reports.
>> reporter: raw emotion on display at an iowa faith and family forum this weekend. herman cain breaking down as he described learning in 2006 he was gravely ill with cancer.
>> walking out of that surgeon's office, after he had just told us stage four --
>> take your time.
>> i said i wasn't going to do this.
>> reporter: the gathering of social conservatives , a key voting balock in iowa , saw gop candidates get off script and speak from the heart, tearing up as they revealed personal hardships. rick santorum spoke of his infant daughter, born with a rare and often fatal genetic condition and his struggle to cope.
>> rib holding that finger.
>> reporter: the gop field is still unsettled. since july, one candidate after another surged, peaked in polls and then collapsed, taking turns as the conservative option to the one republican who stayed near the top, mitt romney .
>> thank you.
>> reporter: romney skipped the iowa forum staying in hanew hampshire where he was endorsed by senator ajyotte. jon huntsman was a surprise guest on "saturday night live".
>> you're kind and good looking.
>> reporter: the latest gop alternative to romney, newt gingrich , but after a series of controversies, including reports his firm may be between $1.6 million and $1.8 million working with mortgage giant freddie mac , some say gingrich's surge won't last.
>> the last thing they look for is someone who has been around washington for so long, not only was he speaker of the house , he also was able to build all the organizations that have taken in so many millions of dollars from the corporate clients that the american electorate is tired of.
>> reporter: one other speaker in iowa last night, rahm emanuel . he was chief of staff here at the white house , now mayor of chicago. he had plenty of ridicule to go around for the republican candidates. but he singled one out in particular, mitt romney , calling him a flip-flopper on major issues. lester?
>> mike viqueira at the white house , thank you.