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It's getting hot in here: Gingrich challenges Romney, says he can handle the heat just fine

Newt Gingrich got fiery when talking about Mitt Romney questioning whether he can handle the heat of a campaign.

In an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd earlier this morning, Romney said this regarding Gingrich complaints about negative ads: "If you can't handle the heat in this little kitchen, the heat that's going to come from Obama's Hell's Kitchen is going to be a heck of a lot hotter."

Gingrich later responded to NBC News: "I'll tell you what. If he wants to test the heat, I'll meet him anywhere in Iowa next week, one-on-one, 90 minutes no moderator, just a timekeeper. He wants to try out the kitchen? I'll be happy to debate him anywhere. We'll bring his ads, and he can defend [them].

"And we can bring the Washington Post indication that his ad is filled with lies and he can defend it. So let's test this kitchen. I'm happy [to]. I'll go in this kitchen. Go back and ask Gov. Romney, would he like to come and play in the kitchen? I don't think so. I don't think he wants to do anything except hide over here and pretend it's not his fault that he is flooding the people of Iowa with falsehoods.

In response to Mitt Romney's comments on The Daily Rundown this morning, GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said that Romney is flooding Iowa with "falsehoods" but that he "can take the heat."

"That's his money and his staff. And it's his responsibility. I can take the heat plenty well. There were 121,000 ads run against me in 1995 and 1996. I went through two government shutdowns. I actually stuck to my word. I opposed Republican tax increases in 1982 and 1980. I think I'll do just fine with the heat from Barack Obama because frankly, it'll be a fair exchange. He'll get a fair amount of heat in the process."

A pro-Romney super PAC has spent millions in Iowa to air spots attacking Gingrich and his record.

Fresh off a plane from Des Moines, Gingrich also admitted to New Hampshire voters at a town hall meeting that the race in Iowa is "a real mess" as political advertising floods the airwaves with just two weeks to go til the Jan. 3 caucuses. The former Speaker of the House added that he is bullish on his prospects in New Hampshire, where he trails front-runner Romney by about 10 points.

"I think we have a real chance in New Hampshire to surprise people," he told more than 100 voters assembled for his town hall. "I think my friends have bought $7 or $8 million in negative advertising so far." He later promised to "cheerfully" maintain a positive campaign.

Additionally, Gingrich weighed in on the payroll-tax-cut extension gridlock in Washington, calling the partisan disagreement "worthy of the Italian parliament."

Gingrich stopped in New Hampshire today with his wife Callista as part of a cross-country tour beginning in Iowa and ending in Virginia. He was joined by New Hampshire state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, who endorsed Gingrich this morning in Des Moines alongside Iowa Speaker of the House Kraig Paulsen.