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. herb irish

    Newt Gingrich hit the nail squarely on the head last night in refuting john king's question. It was out of line, deviously designed to embarrass Gingrich, and contrived to castigate the very character of Gingrich. Hurrah for Gingrich and shame on CNN and ABC. The liberal media has pulled out every dirty trick possible to discredit all Republicans and Conservatives Everyone but the KoolAid drinking Obama followers (liberal media included) can see through this charade.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Herb you are right on. Not only can CNN not admit that John King acted like a pure A__ H__, they have spent all day trying to justify it. But what would you expect from the one sided liberal media!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Cybersniper

    Isnt tgere a reptile thats a newt?

    January 20, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. countryMo

    The stupidity of the the liberal news media was at it's best last night! Why wasn't Obama asked point blank questions such as, "Is your birth certificate real or a fake?" "Are you a Muslim?" Newt Gingrich showed an apporiate response and hat's off to him!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Um........huh?

      Did it come up in the debate against McCain? Huh? Why are you still stuck on his BC?

      January 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dlaw

    Newt Gingrich has no morals, but I guess that is one OF the things that is not needed in an effort to run for President.. I will not be voting for him and I can believe others sill believe in him so..WOW

    January 20, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Fiery Rebuttal

    Sure I was having an affair with my school teacher as my wife worked full-time to put me through school. And sure I dumped my wife as soon as I became successful. What of it? So I'm an average American. Big deal.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Full Disclosure

    ...including exactly how many tons of antacid Newt has consumed. We have the right to know if his irritable bowel syndrome might proclude him from having his hand on the button. Colonostomy results. Full physical. The man running for office should at least be able to run around the block without suffering a stroke.

    January 20, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. hawkeye

    The liberal media is still the same today as it was 4 yrs ago.They purposely embarrassed palin,they flaunted obama to make him look good.I did my very best to expose him for what he is a socialist and racist to the max.The press will do the same this time around as last time,embarass the republicans with anything possible while giveing obama a free ride.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Um........huh?

      >>I did my very best to expose him for what he is a socialist and racist to the max.<< I thought News Of The World went out of busines....racist? Are you kidding me? LMAO!!!! You're funny!

      January 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Portland tony

    Newt is the consummate politician. His team knew that he'd get hit with a question about his ex's interview from a moderator or competing candidate. His strategy "Attack the attacker" worked...for now anyway!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  9. torchmaster

    Why can't they get moderators who aren't the hateful and mean radical liberal types?

    Did they forget about Clinton already?

    January 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      You an like the loving and tolerant conservatives?

      January 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      I meant "You mean like the loving and tolerant conservatives?"

      January 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ? about his charachter, you mean.

    Newt responded exactly like an overly obese man caught red-handed by his wife in bed with another man/woman would respond. "Why are you bringing-up my charachter at a time like this"...as his triple chin flutters from his head wagging. "You weren't supposed to be home."

    January 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Um........huh?

      C H A R A C T E R

      January 20, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. F-Gingrich

    Newt is the biggest whiner left in the race. If you don't want people digging up your skeletons, then stop acting like you have scruples. You are the biggest lying two faced hypocritical turd on the planet Newt....accept it!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Ordinaryguy

    Neil Cavuto is attempting to deflect media criticism by setting up a strawman to attack. ABC and CNN could have brought up the ex-wife issue weeks, even months ago. Or waited until next week. The chosen timing so close before the primary in SC shows clear media bias!!

    January 20, 2012 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Um........huh?

      Bull. It's been a topic all along. Thanks for playing.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
  13. bigwilliestyles

    Love the Liberal comments about Newt. He's a blowhard demagogue that would be right at home leading a meeting of the klan, or issuing a call for a 'northwest imperative'. The only thing the crowd response proves is that the audience was filled with easily mislead, hate-filled idiots; the kind that you see in those old photographs of lynch mobs.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  14. RD44

    Good ploy to not answer question, similar to attacking Virginia for failing to get on ballot.

    January 20, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  15. liz wilson

    I think the question from John to Newt was a setup. An agreement to get the question out there – give Newt a chance to shoot it down and that way it would not be likely to come up again during the debate

    January 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • banasy©

      That's not a bad theory.

      January 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
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