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. bigwilliestyles

    Newt Gingrich: humble, reformed, misunderstood family values politician, or lying, hypocritical fat sleazoid? All this, and more, when the Republican Clown Car Show continues; stick around.

    January 21, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Peter Canada

    It was an angry response by an angry man, about what an angry woman told the media. For Newt to lash out at John King is nothing more but an angry Newt caught with his pants down. But that's Newt for you.

    January 21, 2012 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Martina

    Gingrich's angry outbursts are making him even less attractive as a candidate than he already is. Moreover, he is a very bad actor.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. nsaidi

    Hey everyone, just to let you know, wanted to say I appreciate all the comments and feedback that's been coming in. If you have suggestions or (constructive) criticism, I'd love to hear it. Some people have mentioned things that they'd like to see covered. By all means, speak up. Thanks much for participating.

    January 21, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Rui Belo

    To read so many idiotic, venomous comments (in other locations) criticizing John King for asking Gingrich the question right up front that dealt with issues like character, fidelity, moral/family values and whether or not these should be considered when selecting a candidate for president of the United States, is disturbing and sickening. King did NOT make any judgements or accusations; he simply spoke up on behalf of a great many concerned people, not just in the U.S. but around the world who do think a leader's character and moral fibre should be considered when selecting a country’s leader. To believe any less in the U.S. is making a mockery of the invocation for “God to bless America”.
    A concerned Canadian who has lived in the U.S..

    January 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  6. sugarbowl17

    sad but true, this is an angry man with some major problems with dear old wifey!!! who want this old angry bitter racist pig for president.. not me! I guess his is having wife problems again. How do we expect him to run the white and he can't do one simple thing keep a wife and be faithful !! he will not get my vote .. too much drama. we will be in a war before we can and darn,,,

    January 21, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Repub hater

    Im sooo laughing at all of you inbread brain , consertive dead brain, blind ,racist and just plain stupid, newt, rick, and drug smoking ron paul menions. Keep following that right wing propoganda spewing hateful right lies. Ignorant trailer trash.

    January 21, 2012 at 11:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SS

    I am a registered independant. The opening question for Newt by the CNN reporter John King for the dabate was stupid – extreemly bad journalism. I think he (John King) should go back to Journalism school and take an ethics major or get fired.
    What did the question have to do with governing the country and the state we are in for jobs and spending?

    January 22, 2012 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  9. EWL

    Some people have labeled John King a hero for asking the question. To me, he's an idiot and a professional "gotcha" tabloid specialist. Gingrich won South Carolina not because of "family values" or anything else. He won because he stood up to the one thing that people hate almost as politicians, people who pretend to be journalist. All other issues where moot when a savvy politician nailed a tabloid ... person. Wanted to say journalist but John King isn't one. Romney should have won South Carolina, but all it took was one stupid question from CNN to change it all.

    January 22, 2012 at 9:19 am | Report abuse |
  10. Jerry Grey

    I think John King should have retaliated reminding people (no matter how biased the audience) that the Presidency is about
    character – can you trust this man???

    January 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Why? Not one member of the media...NO ONE...ever asked character questions of the Clintons, John Edwards, Chris Dodd, or Barack Obama during a debate or while recapping a debate. They HAVE chastised opposing candidates for bringing up such things. What Gingrich said to John King was what many viewers wanted to say to him. Finally, a candidate that will put themselves out there and call a spade a spade.

      I'm voting for Ron Paul. Whoever is nominated will pick Giuliani as their running mate.

      January 23, 2012 at 10:46 am | Report abuse |
  11. joke

    the main cnn articles are a shame, the blogs look like they done by same person-and they probably are. All putting down Newt from every angle, trying to pretend they're actually public opinion. The left wing media is lower than dirt.

    January 23, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12