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. Pam in Oregon

    Newt is a total hypocrite. As he was with both his mistress AND his wife he was attempting to have President Clinton impeached for the same actions. If Newt is the GOP's moral champion then they have a lot of problems. Remember, he disgraced himself in his previous political life and had to leave his post. Maybe he convince a lot of the crowd in attendance at the debate by turning his misdeeds onto the media, however, he is still who he is which is not the conservative moral champion of the GOP.

    Pam in Oregon

    January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  2. mmac

    In 2008, there was a website called "journolist" where the liberal media went to to conspire the day's news against republicans to help obama.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Gabriele von Kampen

    I am not a Republican, and I am certainly not a Newt Gingrich fan. But John King's opening question was a absolutely sorry example for journalism. Can't believe that this was sanctioned by CNN. This comment is coming from a Obama voter.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TJeff1776

    Hey Addie Davis....the saga continued from there. Newt and daughters denied those papers were served. WHY- because his wife divorced him. The divorce papers were lost, but found three weeks ago at the institgation of CNN. Turns out the "repentant Newt" and daughters LIED publicly about it......Newt did the filing.....record of which is onliine now.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. scott

    mmac – Flat out false. Several news sources DID report it, and in fact questioned Edwards about the affair prior to Edwards dropping out of the race. Edwards eventually admitted to having the affair on the liberal media channel ABC, but not to fathering the baby. Get your facts straight.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      WRONG! The only source was the national enquirer. It wasnt until edwards dropped out that the news media picked up on it.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
  6. @liars

    ...and I bet that you would be hard-stretched to find even one major media talking head who wants to see the fed audited by US for the first time ever. To even hear this issue being discussed you have to turn to Democracy Now!or PBS. The major media are scared to death we'll find out that the stock market is a shell game...our housing market is manipulated...and our leaders knew of it the whole time. What have our presidents been hiding? Why haven't ANY of them allowed an audit?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. scott

    Pam – You're not clear on the rules. It's ok when a republican does it.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
  8. David Crosby

    Amazing that everything is someone else's fault if your a bible thumper..The Media is the boogie man and not Gingrich's behavior...The man has 3 Wives and 3 different Religions..and has 3 different political foundations feeding him ill gotten gains...sounds like he'd be a great President...

    January 20, 2012 at 7:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      Sounds to me like the typical democrat, maybe he should change parties...

      January 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  9. willard

    I think presdient obama are keep pretty cool what about fraud check scam from afrcian amercian

    January 20, 2012 at 7:43 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dieshard

    Noot is NOT an honest man !!! He is a liar, cheat thief, and all-around useless human being!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      You mean Obama dont you?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnna B

      Ron Paul is the exact opposite of each of those horrible qualities-
      We do have one good man in this race that is being ignored unfortunately......misery loves company you know–corrupted government wants to stay corrupted-–so, they ignore the good one and make him out to be crazy!!
      It's too bad for America. We need Ron Paul as President !!

      January 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  11. TJeff1776

    We stand at a distance watching Newt look at himself in a mirror......he observes a halo; but we observe a sorry bastard.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mmac

    In 2008, there was a website called "journolist" that the liberal media went to to conspire the day's news against republicans to help obama.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  13. @liars

    Did you know, that while congress gave American banks 568 billion tax dollars, the fed banks quietly dumped over 3 trillion dollars on our open market? Just as property values hit rock-bottom, the fed began gobbling-up property. Property like The Harley-Davidson motorcycle corporation and The Crossroads Mall in Norman, Ok. ALL without being audited. The Fed is working US like a bunch of Las Vegas tourists. Ron Paul says "No". Obama and Bush say "yes, yes, yes".

    January 20, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mmac

    chris matthews said obama put a thrill up his legs and said he was going to do everything he could to make sure obama was successful. MEDIA BIAS? YOU BE THE JUDGE.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      Grab a dictionary. Look up "news". Then look up "opinion". Chris mathews was not reporting the news.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      DID I SAY THE NEWS? I said bias media. You need the dictionary.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  15. scott

    mmac – Look it up, as I did. He talked to SEVERAL reporters about this in 2007 in fact, where he (just like newt) denied the whole thing.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      AP/CBS: National Enquirer Not a Valid Source For Edwards Affair

      January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
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