Readers judge GOP contenders after national security debate
Eight major GOP presidential candidates met in Washington on Tuesday for the CNN National Security Debate.
November 23rd, 2011
01:50 PM ET

Readers judge GOP contenders after national security debate

Editor's note: This post is part of the "Overheard on" series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. Share your debate reaction on CNN iReport and in the comments area below.

Several key divergence points between the GOP candidates emerged Tuesday night during the CNN-sponsored national security and foreign policy debate. The debate was spirited, but who can you believe? That's a question both CNN analysts and our own readers have been trying to answer.

Who can you believe at GOP debates?

Debate coach Todd Graham once again evaluated the candidates in this opinion piece that evaluates the debate. Commenters and iReporters responded with some interesting critiques of some of the candidates.

Many analysts said Newt Gingrich gave a strong performance, with nuanced arguments and confident defenses of potentially unpopular positions on spending and illegal immigration, but commenters seemed a bit ambivalent about him.

joeinalabama: Newt has a lot of baggage, but I think he has a better grasp of how the world works than the rest of them, including Barack Obama.

TxJim: "Newt makes so much sense. Over and over and over again. Very smart man. Just completely devoid of any credibility and totally unelectable."

thestocks: "Newt is a very smart man. I think he has too many skeletons in his closet, and too many instances in his past when he supported the liberal spending policies of George W. Bush."

Ron Paul, on the other hand, advocated a libertarian stance that set him apart from the GOP candidates, analysts say. Paul is known for having a very devoted following, particularly online (the comments section is no exception), and several readers wrote to share their support of him.

firehawktt: "I was impressed with Ron Paul in this debate. The U.S. should not be the world police. We should not interfere in every foreign conflict out there. Here you had the other candidates attacking Obama for not putting a no fly zone in Syria or Iran. We're already in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, and these guys want us to get involved in more wars?"

columbridae: "As much as I hate to admit it, Ron Paul came off as very intelligent last night. He still has unrealistic ideas, but he knows his facts. ... I don't think his extreme liberty policies can survive when there is so much corruption and greed; they would be good ideas if businesses could be trusted to not do bad things."

In the article, Graham talks about making deposits in a credibility bank that can't get stretched too thin, just like your finances. He says Jon Huntsman made comments that added to his credibility, and he also says Mitt Romney managed to gain the edge over Rick Perry in a discussion about U.S. policy with Syria. Our commenters liked Huntsman in many of their discussions and were ambivalent about Romney in some cases. Take this comment exchange:

Sphy: "Huntsman won on credibility by a landslide. Romney just oozes insincerity. You can tell he's pandering to Republicans and doesn't believe half the positions he seems to be selling."

But if you think that you can escape from the three-ring electoral circus by moving to some other country, you might want to think again.

ejr1953: You really can't believe any of them. Politics in America is the game of the politician figuring out what most people want to hear, feeding their pre-conceived notions about how things should be in the world, making statements to get more people to vote for them vs. the other candidates.

Roscoe55: Not just in America my friend, things are just the same here in the UK. Politicians get elected on one set of promises and forget all about them once they get in power.

Join the conversation about the debate in the comments area below and in the latest stories on Or share your opinion on video via CNN iReport.

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

soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. IThinkImMe

    CNN is completely biased and they even admit it.
    "In August, both CNN and Politico admitted that they are inclined to ignore Ron Paul, despite his success, because he is “unelectable.” Likewise, Howard Kurtz of Newsweek and The Daily Beast bluntly stated, “We are in the business of kicking candidates out of the race.”"

    November 23, 2011 at 3:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    I am in total agreement with Mike@3:00.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
  3. gabe

    Ron Paul was the only sincere person on the panel. everyone else was spewing overly formulated responses that often didn't even respond to the question at hand. If people valued intelligence at all in this country the audience would have left in disgust.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    Oh, do be quiet, fake JIF@3:55.

    November 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Josh

    Ron Paul lost this debate in the first five minutes. He has no idea about foreign policy period. Anyone who says if we leave them alone they will leave us alone is a lunatic and will get us attacked. For his domestic policies, do we really want to waste another four years of congress fighting with a president. Obama is too far left/stupid and Ron Paul is too far right/old. Stop wasting everyones time with him. You want a real chance at beating Obama give Newt the nomination. He is the only one on that stage who can out debate and out think Obama. He will call him on his lies he will show a firmer grip on foreign and domestic problems and the public will over look his past.

    November 23, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ed in Houston

    Someone please tell Ron Paul to speak clearly and try not to laugh and talk at the same time. I like his positions and jabs, he just doesnt look good on stage debating

    November 23, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ed in Houston

      He does look a bit cowardly, atleast by the way he present himself

      November 23, 2011 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Smitty49

    Romney has a better chance of beating Obama than Newt but I did like Newt's stand on Immigration. As for Huntsman – he made Obama look like a hawk. Way to soft.

    November 23, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Rich in Illinois

    Last night, Gingrich pulled me toward supporting his candidacy with his bold and "sincere" statement on the illegal alien issue. I am very conservative but also compassionate toward my fellow man. Romney is a good man but seems to lack the conviction of his beliefs.He panders when it is convenient. Newt told me (and others) last night what we don't want to hear. I appreciate that in a man.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tony in WA

    This was a good showing from Ron Paul, and pretty decent for Huntsman. Anytime one of them attacked Obama they just sounded baseless. Gingrich scares me, he wants a perpetual police state and to take away more liberties...

    Ron Paul was applauded nearly every time he spoke, I think the people and washington insiders are really beginning to see him as someone who will actually turn this nation toward a better direction.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. s kel

    All republicans are tea baggers. They want people to earn a living. Stand up for themselves. Treat people fairly. Believe in God before party. They are not like us. We are above that.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. chris

    interesting debate; just watched in a little bit ago. However, let's be honest. The amount of GOP candidates still around is absurd, let alone this whole process starting so early. Regardless, we all know when it comes down to it most of the folks on stage last night are basically filler spots with no real chance of becoming president or nominee. Huntsman, Paul, Cain, Bachmann. Romney and Gingrich are the top two, Romney will likely get nomination.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:48 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kayli

    I am an independent voter and have been watching the Republican field as it attempts to winnow down to one viable, credible candidate. Jon Huntsman has my vote, if he can only last long the tortoise and the hare(s). He has the experience and personal qualities that I am looking for in a candidate. The others flame brightly, misstep mightily, and misspeak almost constantly; qualities I would not want in a President.

    November 23, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Suze2

    Did anyone catch Romneyi's furious eye-blinking? I remember reading somewhere that when people lie, they blink their eyes more frequently. So unless he wears contact lenses and they were bothering him, I'd say he was incredibly insincere. Everyone else blinked at a normal rate.

    November 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JD

    I was delighted to see the debate questions spread more evenly between the candidates. Obama has failed Big Time, and I'm looking for a presidential candidate who is capable of pulling this country back together again and working with the dysfynctional Congress to provide some real solutions on the economy, jobs creation, national security, etc., undersanding this also takes into consideration the evolving global situations that impact the US.

    My personal assessment:

    * Romney is entrenched in the GOP traditional view with no new ideas when we need fresh perspective and real solutions. He has also presented some beliefs I think would plunge us into more overseas wars and into a trade war with China, which would further collapse our economy.
    * Gingrich comes across as arrogant and even abrasive. I don't see him as capable of working both sides of the aisle to get things accomplishedn in a dysfunctional Congress.
    * Cain seems more muddled with every debate. He can talk about 999 but not much else. Very narrow scope.
    * Perry comes across as shooting from the hip without necessarily considering the big picture consequences. Not what I want to see in a president.
    * Paul is too extreme, and it is highly unlikely he can work succesfully with Congress to pull this country together.
    * Huntsman is the only candidate who has consistently offered solid knowledge and strategies based on domestic and foreign big picture perspective, and has a proven track record of working with others to come up with viable solutions ... and we NEED solutions. He's a conservative who can also appeal to moderates because he has an open mind, so he can beat Obama ... but I doubt any of the others can. Huntsman is strongly on my radar as leading GOP candidate able to pull this divided country back together.

    November 23, 2011 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Donald in CA

    This whole group is scary except romney and he looks scared. Just the guy who you would want to get the 3 am call. Lord help us.

    November 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • George Patton

      The only one of them that I would want in the White House at 3:00 am would be Rep. Ron Paul from Texas. The rest scare me with their warmongering. There has already been far too much killing as it is!!!

      November 23, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini

      Thank you, George. I completely agree. These obscene wars need to stop and soon!

      November 23, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
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