Sep 13, 2011 6:28 PM by Gene Cotton
MANCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - An assertive Mitt Romney has emerged in the GOP presidential race.
For months on the campaign trail, the former Massachusetts governor has avoided attacking his Republican competitors. But Romney dramatically shifted gears this week, becoming an aggressive critic of Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the new frontrunner.
During Monday's presidential debate, Romney went after Perry on Social Security and immigration. His campaign says the criticism marks the beginning of a new phase. They expect Romney to keep the pressure on.
Other Republican candidates may help Romney.
Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Congressman Ron Paul have been focused on Perry since he joined the race a nmonth ago. Romney hopes the combined attacks will hurt Perry's poll numbers.
The Texan led Romney by double digits in a CNN poll released this week.