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Mitt Romney will debate Monday in Tampa

TAMPA — A day after taking flak for indecisiveness, Mitt Romney committed to participate in a GOP presidential primary debate Monday night in Tampa.

"Yeah, yeah, I'll be doing the debate on Monday," Romney said while campaigning Saturday in South Carolina, according to POLITICO. "Yeah, I'm in."

Rival Newt Gingrich said Friday that if Romney didn't show, it would "become a running joke."

The 9 p.m. debate is being hosted by the Tampa Bay Times, NBC News, National Journal and the Florida Council of 100. NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams will moderate, with a panel including Times political editor Adam C. Smith.

Watch it on NBC or streamed live on tampabay.com. No public tickets are available.

Romney will also participate in a debate Thursday in Jacksonville, campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said.

"Governor Romney looks forward to participating in two spirited debates in Florida and showing Sunshine State voters why he is the strongest candidate to defeat President Obama and fix our economy," Williams said in an email.

Monday night's debate at the University of South Florida in Tampa will be the 18th major one of the primary, though just the second among the four remaining candidates — Romney, Gingrich, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum.

The USF Student Government is hosting a Debate Watch Party at USF Tampa on the western end of the Martin Luther King Jr. Plaza lawn. The party opens to guests at 7:30 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

PolitiFact will provide a fact-checked play-by-play of the debate with live tweets from @PolitiFact. While you're watching, tweet your debate reactions to @PoliticsTBTimes and we'll feature the best insights in our digital coverage on tampabay.com.

Mitt Romney will debate Monday in Tampa 01/21/12 [Last modified: Saturday, January 21, 2012 11:33pm]

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