Nightly News   |  January 08, 2012

Rivals try to slow Romney's momentum

At Sunday's NBC News-Facebook debate, GOP hopefuls tried to make their case on why the former Massachusetts governor should not be the nominee. NBC News David Gregory explains.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> now, moderator of "meet the press" and the moderator of this morning's contentious debate. the way the rest of the field is going after romney , they didn't seem to be buying into the notion that he'll run away with all of this.

>> there was a recognition that they had to do something to slow him down. and as you look at the field, huntsman had an opportunity today and i think he probably came out pretty well in both going after governor romney and giving his campaign up here some new life. he stake his campaign up here. that was really it. the way the debate began really was sort of a last opportunity for them to make the case of why romney can't be the nominee. that's the argument they're trying to make, the voters at this point. he's won iowa. he's ahead in new hampshire. there is a view in the party he's cruising to the nomination unless somebody can stop him. and talking to people throughout the day, folks thought, yeah, did romney have a target on his back, yeah, but he probably came out at the end still pretty well in tact. i think that's what they're thinking in his camp tonight.

>> at the top of the broadcast, i mentioned the latest poll, whdh in boston showed ron paul in a firm second, santorum slipping. jon huntsman gaining traction. what are second and third place worth in terms of perception from here on out?

>> the name of the game is consolidating conservative support to be the anti- romney candidate. jon huntsman does not necessarily represent that. that is represented by a perry, gingrich, santorum. so the fact that was a mouthful in your question indicates it is romney against a wider group that still helps him.

>> david gregory , david, thanks.