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Romney seeks $10,000 bet during GOP debate

Republican presidential candidates Texas Gov. Rick Perry, left, and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney take part in the Republican debate, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. AP

Mitt Romney stuck out his hand and challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet at a Republican presidential debate Saturday night, prompting Perry to decline because he is "not in the betting business."

At issue was Perry's claim that he read in Romney's book "No Apology" that the individual health care mandate Romney signed into law as Massachusetts governor "should be the model for the country."

"I know it came out of the reprint of the book, but, you know, I'm just saying, you were for individual mandates, my friend."

That seemed to anger Romney, who responded, "you know what, you've raised that before, Rick. And you're wrong."

"Rick, I'll tell you what -- $10,000 bucks, $10,000 bet," Romney continued, thrusting his hand in the direction of the surprised Texas governor.

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After Perry declined by saying he isn't "in the betting business, but I'll show you the book" Romney quoted "as close as I can quote" from the book, saying that it says each state should be able to fashion its own system for its citizens.

"I have not said in that book, first edition or the latest edition, anything about our plan being a national model imposed on the nation," Romney added.

Soon after, the Perry campaign emailed reporters a release headlined "Romney deletes his own words from his book."

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It included a link to a highlighted portion of the book under the subhead "The Massachusetts model," which reads: "We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting the government take over health care."

Romney's decision to offer a $10,000 bet was immediately seized upon by the Democratic National Committee, which spotlighted the amount of the bet. "FACT: $10,000 is almost three times what the average family spends on groceries in a year," read one Tweet.

Romney's net worth was estimated by his campaign to be between $190 million and $250 million.

Bill Burton, who runs a Democratic interest group called Priorities USA, told the Associated Press the comment shows Romney "could not be more out of step."

"It is predictable that Mitt Romney will slip up and let folks in on who he is from time-to-time," Burton said in an email.

The twitter topic #What10kbuys was trending soon after the Iowa debate ended. 

Following the debate, Romney advisor Stu Stevens said the $10,000 bet was a "very human thing to do to get someone to shut up when they're not telling the truth."

The candidates were asked later in the debate about their economic situation while growing up. Romney said he did not grow up poor but that his father did, adding that his father taught him to value the importance of hard work.

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