January 20th, 2012
03:00 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Gingrich's fiery rebuttal makes debate night more memorable

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Emotions ran high during CNN's GOP debate Thursday night in South Carolina. Readers posted more than 10,000 comments. One topic dominated them all: Newt Gingrich's feisty reaction to a question about an ex-wife's allegations from the moderator, CNN's John King. Let's take a look at what people are saying as the dust settles:

Gingrich delivers showstopper at beginning of South Carolina debate

The following commenter was proud of Gingrich during that moment:

therealoc: "I stood up and cheered when Newt Gingrich responded that the media has protected (President Barack) Obama and has been after every conservative. Where was CNN in 2008 when there was ample opportunity to research the past life of John Edwards and Barack Obama?"

Another said Gingrich shouldn't receive too much praise.

Donaldbain: "Let's be clear here. Gingrich's response was by no means a 'showstopper.' It was an angry response by someone who knows he is guilty. The 'anger response' is used to make people stop asking questions. He didn't answer the question and berated the moderator for asking it. It is called obfuscating, something he is good at. He has no business trying to stand for president, and he knows it."

Omekongo Dibinga of Washington was among the CNN iReporters who shared their views on video. Dibinga said he doesn't support Gingrich's stances but felt such a personal question was inappropriate.

"People in America are generally forgiving of people who admit their shortcomings," he said. "That was the problem with Herman Cain. He took no responsibility for the sexual allegations and let the story go. Newt took it head on."

omekongo: "The debates are clearly showing that the Republican public is turning toward Newt. The timing of the interview with his ex-wife will also support him because Republican candidates will always win a battle against the media. Quite honestly, as long as his sexual relationships are legal, it should be a nonissue or at least one undeserving of such vast attention."

But Cliff Olney of Watertown, New York, said Gingrich was being hypocritical after criticizing President Bill Clinton for having an affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Liberty1955: "King showed his class by not giving it back to Gingrich, who apparently doesn't believe that being president of the United States is entirely about character ... and loyalty, and honesty. Maybe Newt Gingrich has asked for God's forgiveness for his hypocrisy, lying and cheating. But Americans aren't as forgiving for what Gingrich tried to do to Clinton during his second term. Trust and loyalty are two important traits I want to see in my country's president. Gingrich has neither of these."

David Kronmiller, an independent from Burbank, California, said he thinks Gingrich won the debate, with Rick Santorum a close second.

"If you listen to that crowd (reaction), Gingrich helped himself with his answer to John King," he said. "It was one of the more memorable moments from this election so far."

What do you think? Post your own video via CNN iReport.

Indeed, many readers said Gingrich gained ground after the debate.

realtalker1: "For those upset about Gingrich being confronted by the media about his personal life, if he does end up the nominee, I think the media did him a favor by giving him the chance to go ahead and address the issue. One way or another it will come up. Better go ahead and let the public get over their shock and awe that their politician of choice is actually capable of being immoral and corrupt than during the actual campaign. Get it out in the open so people have time to get over it. That way when Obama throws the punch it's a much softer blow because no one really cares anymore."

Another commenter said King should have pushed Gingrich further.

ajbt: "I have to say I am disappointed that John King didn't go there and say it was a relevant question when (Gingrich) preaches morality and the sanctity of marriage and went after Clinton. I may have to give him a pass though as he may have been shocked that the Christian conservatives were cheering so loudly for a man with no morals; it was so confusing."

Timing is important, too, as a lot of readers noted.

Spodumene: "Would Gingrich been less indignant if King had asked the question later in the debate? Americans heard the interview with the ex-wife, and are probably wondering what is the truth."

KeninTexas: "Actually, I would suspect later would have been more appropriate. Being the first question smacks of 'gotcha' journalism. It's a question that would come up at some point, and Gingrich is smart enough to know it. But again, being the first question was a poor piece of work."

Many people credited Santorum with a strong performance.

comment8or: "Romney looks and sounds presidential, and Newt would easily whip Obama in a debate, but tonight's debate has solidified my support for Santorum, especially when he commented after the debate was over that he is ready to lose if need be, to say and do what he believes is right rather than say or do what seems to be expedient at the moment to win the election.  He is someone we can trust."

Debate analyst Todd Graham said he thought Santorum was the true winner of the debate, and some commenters agreed.

Daddy5: "Newt Grinch is a blowhard, Mitt Romney is an out-of-touch rich guy, Ron Paul is too ancient and extreme ... that leaves Rick.  ... He is a solid, stable candidate who would do well against Obamaism."

Another reader also pointed to Santorum, albeit for a different reason entirely.

AngryBob86: "Santorum is definitely my first pick for the Republican nomination. Because of his religious extremism, he doesn't have a snowball's chance in hell of beating Obama. Go Rick, Go. Make a fool of yourself and your party. I'm behind you all the way."

Several expressed support for Paul, with favorable comments cropping up on CNN's main article on the debate and in an opinion piece about the battle to win South Carolina.

FreThinker13: "Ron Paul is the only man of integrity in either party.  Open your eyes, ears and mind."

strongstrong: "I think Ron Paul and Santorum tied. Newt failed, and Romney got a D-."

geothunder99: "It's simple. Ron Paul needs to get out of this and concentrate now on a third-party run. I mean, look at the clowns that are running; it's pathetic. Obama will clean house against any of these clowns."

oakhill: "Obama has lost most of the independent vote. And he wouldn't get one single Paul vote. Paul supporters would write Ron Paul in rather than vote for Obama, or many of the other GOP candidates."

Some griped that the debate audience's participation has become distracting.

Ocean26: "Why is the audience allowed to boo and cheer like they are watching Jerry Springer? Why is there an audience at all? The entire debate format is a joke."

Another reader was upset not only about the crowd's reaction to Gingrich but also about the chatter when Romney discussed his taxes.

barbie1311: "Like a true politician (Gingrich) denies everything flatly. After all, it is his word against his ex-wife's ... and he gets a standing ovation? Romney rants and raves about how much he supports capitalism and connecting it to free enterprise and job creation the country is in dire straits because of unregulated capitalism and he got a huge round of applause for his statement. Who in the hell are those people sitting in the audience? Paid supporters?"

The following reader said Romney should have been tougher on Gingrich.

QthePower: Mitt Romney lost a golden chance.  If Newt manages to come back from behind and catches up or even surpasses Romney, Romney will regret this missed chance.  In politics, you play dirty Romney should have said, 'Newt may act like he's angry, but to me and to most American people, characters matter, especially when you are running for the highest office.  I think these are very disturbing questions about Newt's character and he needs to address them.' "

Others were happy to see another candidate take the spotlight away from Romney.

conoclast: "Newt's offense-is-the-best-defense against  the media will surely come back and bite him.  While his outburst made for great fodder for the radical-right shills in the audience, it was so typical of Gingrich completely over the top in scale.  It may have even won him the South Carolina primary, but later on that 'win' will become baggage, with which he's already overladen. But let's give The Newtster his due: he's slowed the Romney Train enough to where we might even get a glimpse of what it's carrying."

What do you think about these issues? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or be a political pundit on CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (280 Responses)
  1. C

    Newt answered EXACTLY as he should have. His past indescrecions are known and OVER. He asked forgiveness. Where was the media well Monica was doing Bill under his desk? He should have been tried for TREASON. She could have been a spy. He was talking about defense and other top secret things....

    January 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mmac

    Obama will bring down the democrat party and the bias media in the november 2012 elections.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duuuuuuhhhh.....

      How isthat going to happen when Obama is going to win again?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisM

      You are as morally and ethicly bankrupt and corrupt as Newt. Get a life ********

      January 20, 2012 at 9:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisM

      You are as morally and ethicly bankrupt and corrupt as Newt. Get a life

      January 20, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Darren Coleman

    It is odd that Rick Perry would endorse Newt Gingrich, given that Newt Gingrich has more baggage than an airline company. It seems natural that he would "put his money where his mouth is" and show there is meaning behind Christain values like family, honesty, and personal integrity. The reaction of the SC crowd was shameful, that they would let him spin himself out of the mess he has created of his personal life. Shame on John King for not being able to stand on his feet more squarely and inform Newt that the American people have a right to know about the character of the man that is trying to be a public representative.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Stoneman

    Newt Gingrich last night when asked about his Ex-Wife stated he was appalled to be asked that question.

    Well Newt I'm APPALLED that you would not answer the question. I am APPALLED that so many cheered your answer. I am APPALLED that everytime you are asked a hard question you run from it or dodge it with some quick witted remark!

    Why?

    Because all of it is relevent. It speaks to your Morals, your Values, your Character. You are a 2 time adulter, had 84 ethic violations filed against you while Speaker of the House, was fined $300,000, and kicked out of congress. The old sayings are you shall know them by the fruit the bear and the seeds they sow. I have four kids and a president is supposed to be someone they can look up to, admire, and that sets good standards, values, and morals. You have done none of these.

    Also, please stop taking credit for the 90's balanced buget. With that being said please democrats please stop giving credit to Bill Clinton. It had nothing to do with either one of them. The 90's prosperity was brought on by Bill Gates and the computer revolution of the late 80's. It is called the FREE MARKET folks. It created huge job markets and great surpluses of cash for the government. Who couldn't balance the buget with that type of economy.

    When looking at Newt "Barak Obama" Gingrich all I see is another quick witted smooth taker with no values, morals, and is someone that is only out for themselves. He has no desire to help Americans just himself. Freddy Mack proved that.

    Anybody that would support Newt Gingrich needs to reassess themselves and what they really stand for!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnna B

      .............. NEWT APPAULED !!!!! I'LL TELL YOU WHAT IS TRULLY APPAULING-– THE HORRIBLE UNFAIR WAY THE REPUBLICAN PARTY AND THE ENTIRE NEWS MEDIA ARE TREATING RON PAUL !!! -– TOTALLY IGNORING HIM LIKE HE DOSN'T EVEN EXSIST IN THIS RACE! IT'S ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING!!!-– HOW CAN THEY GET AWAY WITH TREATING HIM LIKE THIS??? IT'S LIKE COMMUNISM !! NOT GIVING HIM EQUAL COVERAGE AND IGNORING HIM LIKE THEY ARE SO BLATENTLY DOING--YOU'D HAVE TO BE BLIND NOT TO SEE IT !!! THE MEDIA IS INFLUENCING THE MASSES WITH THEIR BIAS. THIS SHOULD NOT BE ALLOWED OR TOLERATED !!!! ITS DISGRACEFUL !!!
      WHO ELSE FEELS AS ANGRY AS I DO ABOUT IT ??????

      January 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mked56

    If you put aside the issue of his ex wife's claims, the point still remains he has been married how many times....
    I want a president where a vow means something, he does not display moral ethics to me! I may not agree with any one candidates policies en total, but I would take Romney over Newt any day!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jose the Wrangler

    This whole discussion is grotesque! Confronted with public evidence of what kind of man he really is, Gingrich rants and raves that the media are out to get him, and the fools on the right ignore the facts and say, "Rah rah!" And the headline writers for CNN help him out by labeling his caught-red-handed screeching as a "Rebuttal!"" Does NO ONE think or pay attention to facts? Gingrich is a hypocrite without a trace of conscience, who cares about nothing and no one in this world, who has publicly stated his intention to destroy the 3-branch system of government in the same breath he uses to proclaim how much he loves the Constitution.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    Gingrich is performing his assigned task. The last thing Republican leaders want is Ron Paul running on his "audit the federal reserve system operating inside of our borders" platform. The Newt and Romney camps don't like to chat about the fed ever being audited. That put's CNN right up there with them.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mmac

    What was the liberals saying when bill clinton was getting a b j in the oval office by an intern WHILE being sued for sexual harrassment? Media bias, DAM STRAIGHT!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. June Heise

    I think you are almost all NOT credible journalists...You trash all the Republicans (Herman Cain for one) but never ask HARD questions of the Dems. Kudos to Gingrich. I used to watch 2 hours of news (3 networks) nightly. Now I am so disgusted that 45 minutes are plenty...Taped movies now fill the bill. SHAME on you all!!!!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. RD44

    Newt just had a clever way to not answer question, probably practiced it for hours. Get mad at media dodge answer, and then kiss up to media later.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. mmac

    In 2008 there was a website called "journolist" that liberal media members converged onto to conspire the day's news against republicans. Media bias? The american people know.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Philip

    Usually these politicians can't agree even on the simplest matters. But when it comes to auditing the federal reserve, Clinton, Bush, Carter, Reagan, Obama, etc are all in complete and total agreement; The American people have no right to know what the fed system located here is doing behind closed doors. They finally all agree on something, but don't want to talk about it.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Fred Gimenez

    I think Newt Gingrich had prepared, rehearsed and rfe-rehearsed his reply to John King's initial question regarding the comments of his first wife. He should be thankful to John King for asking this question at the beginning and getting the issue out of the way, making possible for Newt Gingrich to continue the rest of the debate without that sensitive topic being at the back of his mind and cramping his style. Yes, he should thank John King.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dee

    CNN PLEASE STOP TRYING TO COVER YOUR ACTIONS IN REGARD TO NEWT GINGRICH! THIS IS SO OBVIOUS TO ANY INTELLIGENT PERSON THAT YOU ARE TRYING TO COVER UP YOUR BAD DECISION IN OPENING THE DEBATE WITH THAT PARTICULAR QUESTION! THIS IS BECOMING REALLY OLD!
    SORRY CNN YOUR EMBARRASSING YOURSELVES BY CONTINUING TO REHASH THIS DISCUSSION! WHY DON'T YOU JUST SAY YOU HATE NEWT AND THEN MOVE ON! INSTEAD OF BEATING AROUND THE BUSH! YOU LOOK SO FOOLISH!
    ALL THE CANDIDATES ARE CRAP BUT THE ONE THAT FIGHTS BACK IS YOUR WHIPPING BOY! THE STANDING OVATION WAS TRYING TO TELL YOU SOMETHING AND IT SEEMS NEWT WAS RIGHT "YOU DO TRY TO COVER OBAMA'S @@$!" GET ON TO THE REAL NEWS...ITS NOT ABOUT YOU! GET OVER IT!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisM

      You appear to be as morally and ethicly bankrupt and corrupt as Newt.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisM

      Dee, You appear to be as morally and ethicly bankrupt and corrupt as Newt.

      January 20, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Gladys

    John King looked pathetic trying to defend himself tonight. Obviously on the defense. And the after debate interview point was so flawed – CNN and Fox asked him different questions – you are spinning it John but you can't trick the informed and educated voters. You and CNN have tried for years and we all know it and finally someone called you out on it on national TV. It's about time – your ratings are low compared to other news networks for a reason! It's to bad – CNN use to be a credible new organization. Can't wait to see your coverage on the Presidential election!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
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