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. longandshort

    er ... if he could not be loyal to not one but two wives what do you expect in terms of loyalty to his promises. if he dumped two wives months after a major sickness, you think he will be with everyday Americans struggling. and to top it all if he had an affair while trying to being down a President, you think this hypocrite will play with straight rules. would be naive to believe any of the hot air that leaves his mouth. whats that proverb 'fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on us' The GOP will never feel ashamed. They just want power at any cost.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      OBAMA lied to the american people about his dead mother's healthcare insurance to help pass obamacare. He is a disgusting human being and should hide out with casey anthony.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      @mmac: What proof do you have that Obama lied? Fox News?

      January 21, 2012 at 12:43 am | Report abuse |
    • Don Yates

      You have stooped to tabloid journalism. You cannot justify what you did with Gingrich's past aggressive comments about other politicians. We want to hear how each candidate will improve ( or hurt) our nations economy and international relations. You ignored the Democratic politicians when they had "dirty laundry" to air, or activities that would/should lead to judicial investigations and very likely convictions. CNN in the (too distant) past could be counted on to be fair and unbiased in most of their reporting. Now CNN has become part of the problem. I have never considered myself a Democrat or a Republican. Now I can strongly say I am NOT a Democrat, nor am I able to believe in our journalist's reporting ethics. Shame on CNN for becoming part of the problem instead of providing us with honorable, truthful, and unbiased journalism. The camels back has broken. CNN is now officially a "sitcom". As my father says: You are talking out of both sides of your mouth.

      January 21, 2012 at 7:41 am | Report abuse |
  2. mmac

    As a tea party member, I CAN SEE NOVEMBER FROM MY HOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 11:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. LousyUSMedia

    Quality U S Journalism is virtually non-existent – witness CNN's John King and his choice of opening questions to begin a presidential debate. The US media offers virtually no insight. Rather, they turn the primary into a simple "horse race" and lazily report the candidate's popularity rank from day to day. This is easier then actually doing any substantive journalism.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for your comment. Curious: What would you like to see covered, ideally?

      January 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hawkeye

    @longandshort That is a pretty peepoor reason to not like newtWhen it came to clinton,and I will bet you was one of them that said what he does in his own life is his own buissness.But now that the shoe is on the other foot oh no we cant have that.You know what at least newt got divorced instead of staying in a sham of a marriage like the clintons.Do you really believe that billy is still faithful to hilly.If you do I have some ocean front property in kansas I will sell ya

    January 20, 2012 at 11:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      The issue is that the Republicans were making such a big deal about character and family values but now that their man has been exposed they show their true colors. Clinton had his flaws but he was not a hypocrite. At least Clinton is still married to his first wife and they have worked through the issues. Newt is just a pig.

      January 21, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  5. Pinsey01

    Between John King lack of insight of what is important in this country to a presidential debate and Juan Willliams insulting the people of SC with his racist questions of can you talk about food stamps in SC and not be racist, i wonder if all journalist have gone the way of the tabloids. Does Juan think all South Carolinians on food stamps are black? What is the difference between a poor white person and a poor black person? Nothing! An out of work poor American is just that regardless of color. Get over race. Report the issues. Change the taxes so businesses will bring the companies and jobs home.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • InTheKnow

      If you don't think phrases like the 'food-stamp president" are not coded to mean "black" then please stick your head back in the sand.

      January 21, 2012 at 12:53 am | Report abuse |
    • Marion

      Food Stamp Pesident, means just that. He has more Americans on Food Stamps Black and White than any other President. I don't know why Blacks automatically assume this term is racist? Do Blacks think there are no Whites on Food stamps? Please get off the freaken race card and quite beings so sensitive. I'm white, two older brothers in their 40s on food stamps, ex military buddies black and white who can't get jobs and are forced to use the new food card. Food stamps are not a Black white issue it's a good paying job or not issue and too many Americans are having a hard time getting good paying jobs. This is Newts point, Obama is JOB KILLER.. ie.. Boeing in SC, Stopped Pipleine, Obama Care, Stopped drilling in Gulf, Demonizes Business that actually hire people, threatens themm with hire taxes. How the heck does anyone see this as an attempt to create jobs? He's the worse President ever!!!!!!!!!!!

      January 21, 2012 at 1:28 am | Report abuse |
  6. hawkeye is

    ...gunh hoe.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Brandon

    John King has all the right in the world to lead off with a question like this because it is a question that has been raised several times, and a question that Americans would like to know. Have we lost all sense of reality here? This goes to show how desperate republicans are for a candidate, none of these men have the character it takes to become president. The crowd forgot what was being addressed simply to focus on how well Newt dodged another bullet in his campaign. I've watched every debate, and every one has seemed like something you would find on modern MTV.

    January 21, 2012 at 12:52 am | Report abuse |
    • InTheKnow

      Agreed

      January 21, 2012 at 12:54 am | Report abuse |
    • Don

      Newt is fraud, and the Republican party of FAMILY VALUES is a two faced fraud.

      January 21, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  8. ckirk

    I would normally never really care if one of the presidential nominees were accused of infidelity; however, in this context it is wrong for Newt Gingrich to not answer because is the one who worked so very hard to help in the impeachment proceedings of POTUS Cinton. What goes around, comes around.

    January 21, 2012 at 1:04 am | Report abuse |
    • sifto

      if that is true–it does not make sense that G would be so offended regarding the question....

      January 21, 2012 at 9:23 am | Report abuse |
  9. Marion

    Food Stamp Pesident, means just that. He has more Americans on Food Stamps Black and White than any other President. I don't know why Blacks automatically assume this term is racist? Do Blacks think there are no Whites on Food stamps? Please get off the freaken race card and quite beings so sensitive. I'm white, two older brothers in their 40s on food stamps, ex military buddies black and white who can't get jobs and are forced to use the new food card. Food stamps are not a Black white issue it's a good paying job or not issue and too many Americans are having a hard time getting good paying jobs. This is Newts point, Obama is JOB KILLER.. ie.. Boeing in SC, Stopped Pipleine, Obama Care, Stopped drilling in Gulf, Demonizes Business that actually hire people, threatens themm with hire taxes. How the heck does anyone see this as an attempt to create jobs? He's the worse President ever!!!!!!!!!!!

    January 21, 2012 at 1:29 am | Report abuse |
  10. bigwilliestyles

    Newt Gingrich: humble family man and politician or lying fat sleazoid? You be the judge.

    January 21, 2012 at 3:27 am | Report abuse |
  11. @Marion

    True, many people are on welfare. And many of them are on welfare no matter how good or bad the economy/job market is. They just live off of welfare for their entire lives, as if it's some kind of enti tlement. Some even have children just to make their "paycheck" bigger! They even refer to welfare day as "payday" if you can imagine that. We need a welfare and social security disability/military disability police taskforce to go-after these lazy ones and see to it that they pay back every penny swindled.

    January 21, 2012 at 6:49 am | Report abuse |
  12. khmeyerson

    If you think Newt cares about you, think again. Newt only cares about Newt. He is a fabulous debater, kind of like the Sophists of Ancient Greece but in the end, Newt does what Newt wants to do and then he uses his talent as a word smith to justify it. It's like watching Herod the Great run for office.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:05 am | Report abuse |
    • sifto

      he is only the "great debater" to men who want to justify their supposed superiority by throwing out bombs instead of answering a question with truth and humility.....

      January 21, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. ___________________

    John King looked like a scalded rat after New kicked his ass.

    Now it's on to Barack Obozo.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jules

    Newt cares about Newt and perhaps Callista for the moment until the next staffer comes around. He uses the media every time he can to deflect the questions. Notice that in the debate he didn't have much to say aoub it except it was false and I don't believe him because he was already having an open marriage from this end when he asked his second wife for an open marriage. He has admitted to that. Get past the man's words and get to his actions – there you find the truth.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:34 am | Report abuse |
  15. Don

    Where was Newt outrage when he and his minions (the Republican Party) insulted the FBI,
    CIA and the intelligence community? Where am I going with this? They said President
    Obama was born in Kenya, if that was true don't you believe America's esteemed intelligence community would know that? But no, according to these guys the CIA and FBI represents "Big Government" and in their eyes government is STUPID and USELESS. Newt Also called our president a Kenyan with colonial views, Newt should know that
    this type argument should have no place in our political discourse yet he in engaged in these type of arguments for political gain. Newt is fraud, and the Republican party of FAMILY VALUES is a two faced fraud. These guys make me sick, and for people to cheer for this tells me how morally bankrupt our society is.

    January 21, 2012 at 7:54 am | Report abuse |
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