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Mr. Romney said he would release his taxes in April, when he’s done his 2011 taxes. He said he wants to release all of his forms at the same time, but he said he’s not sure how many years of forms he will release — drawing boos from some in the audience.

Earlier this week, he said his overall tax rate is closer to the 15 percent levied on investment income, which is far lower than the rates many middle-class taxpayers pay for their wage- or salary-based income.

Mr. Paul said he doubts he will release his tax forms, while Mr. Santorum said he does his own taxes, they are sitting on his computer at home, and he will release them when he gets a chance.

Political television coverage Thursday was dominated by ABC’s interview with Marianne Gingrich, Mr. Gingrich’s second wife, who said the then-speaker asked her for an “open marriage” so that he could also be intimate with Callista, now his wife. Mr. Gingrich would eventually divorce Marianne and marry Callista.

At the debate, Mr. Gingrich bashed CNN host John King for leading off with “trash like that,” and was interrupted by applause at his attack on the press.

Mr. Gingrich said ABC refused to accept the assurances of his personal friends that the accusations were false, and he accused CNN, ABC and the rest of the national media of “protecting Barack Obama by attacking Republicans.”

The day started off with the news that Mr. Santorum had claimed a lead in Iowa’s caucuses, which happened more than two weeks ago.

In the early-morning hours after the Jan. 3 caucuses Iowa’s Republican Party announced Mr. Romney had won by eight votes. But some precinct workers immediately raised questions about the results.

On Thursday, the party released updated, certified results that showed Mr. Santorum now in the lead by 34 votes, 29,839 to 29,805. That showing also means Mr. Romney won 216 fewer votes in Iowa than he did in 2008, when he also claimed second place.

The Santorum campaign said the results showed he is the conservative alternative to Mr. Romney in the race.

“Thank you to the people of Iowa,” Mr. Santorum said at the top of the debate.

Mr. Romney still claimed a victory of sorts, issuing a statement calling it “a virtual tie.” But during the debate, asked in a lighthearted question what one thing in the campaign he would do differently, he quipped: “I’d have worked to get 25 more votes in Iowa, that’s for sure.”

Even as the Iowa results were being released, word went out that Mr. Perry was ending his campaign, saying he saw no “viable” path to win the nomination.

The three-term Texas governor said Mr. Gingrich has “the heart of a conservative reformer” and tried to reassure social conservatives that the former House speaker can lead the Republican Party despite his turbulent personal history.

“Newt is not perfect, but who among us is?” he said. “The fact is, there is forgiveness for those who seek God, and I believe in the power of redemption.”

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