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. Michael

    Of course, the power brokers know that Gingrich can never make the cut and he is a loose cannon whose gig is up!
    Only question is – how much luster he will take out of Romney on his way to obscurity.
    Classic Politician – don't like the message put the messanger on trial.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • UhYeaOk

      True, straight out of the DNC playbook....

      January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jane

    I thought the attack on Newt Gingrich at the Republican debate was a real cheap shot. John King should be ashamed of himself. How does he know what went on between a husband and wife; no divorce is peaceful so it sounds like a lot of vengeance on her part. How much did ABC pay to get her to reveal or create something of that nature? She should be ashamed too after all she took Newt away from his first wife, let this issue die.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Franca Martino

    Wow!! Newt Gingrich referred to his previous marriage as "TRASH" He definetly should not be elected president!!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Moose 1

    Gingrich running as a top lead for the Republicans will have only
    one honest thing in his resume in that he was formally sanctioned by congress for ethics
    violations & left his sick wife when she had terminal cancer for another woman and this
    resume of woe will assure Obama of a victory if Obama run,cool.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Top Ten items one might find inside of Newt's colon.

    @Jane. Get a clue. It's public knowledge that Newt cheated on his wife as she was working full-time to put him through school. And he dumped her when he became scuccessful. He planned it out. He used her. He divorced her contemptuously. Now, back to what's inside his colon.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Contemptuously

      Oh, oh, I'll play!!! Will you give us a clue? Is it you? You seem to have your head up your ass, why not his? You're treating everyone here contemptuously! Did I get it right? What do I win? Huh?? Huh?? Are you talking about his colon because you think he's full of chit?? WHO CARES ABOUT HIS COLON!!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. miki801

    A paraphrase of Truman-A personal smear? I tell the truth and they think
    it is a smear. Ethics violations, adultery, all true charges. Perhaps we and ours have
    also slipped, but we should elect our best and brightest. Forgiveness is a matter of faith.
    America can have higher standards and not seek the lowest standards.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      America's standards sunk to an all time low when they elected mr. hope and change.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duuuuuuhhhh.....

      big maccattack, you need to simmer down now and consider what all of the pork fat condress has done.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
  7. mmac

    obama is toast against gingrich. "EMPTY SUIT" VS GENIUS. It wont be close.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duuuuuuhhhh.....

      Go back and take your meds. they're wearing of....Fat Boy won't even get the nomination....

      January 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Maria Enger

    South Carolina Applauds Newt Gingrich for his Questionable Behavior
    What has happened to the Republican Party? Evangelicals are considering Newt Gingrich for president. Many politicians have lost their positions for the kind of behavior that Mr. Gingrich has participated in. Sections of the conservative party are voting for such a man to be president of our country! His now wife would then be the first home-breaker and longtime mistress who would represent our country as the first lady. It is hard to understand!
    I remember when Mr. Gingrich became the Speaker of the House. He was hailed by the press and admired by many. It did not take long before he was gone from the scene. I can foresee the same now. Beside the moral issues his ideas are grandiose and flipped out as something easy to fix. Does he forget that he has to work with the House and Senate? His tone is very off-putting. I wonder how foreign dignitaries will respond to his way of communicating.
    Maria, Discouraged Republican

    January 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      Our present first lady wasnt proud of her country until her husband was nominated for president. Disgusting.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. BobinCO

    It was a totally fair question. Newt has built his career aligning himself with the Moral Majority and all of their various incarnations over the years, preaching morality to the masses while having, himself, the morals of an ally cat. His outburst last night should only have an affect on the gullible. The rest of us see this classic deflection mechanism for what it is: Deny (that it happened), Minimize (it shouldn't matter anyway) and Blame (the Liberal Media!) Today's Newt is the same as yesterday's. No thanks.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      where was the media when john edwards was cheating on his dying wife. Thats what newt touched on. The educated american knows the difference. The uneducated and backwards thinking liberals only see what they want to see.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rich

      Where were these questions about Tony Resco or Bill Ayers for Barack Obama, they came up once or twice in print but never in the debate and certainly not as an opening questions. The point here is the media is shielding Obama in a biased way to the point were most intelligent open minded liberals see it!

      January 20, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karmen

      Mcmac, are you serious? The media was all over it! Where were you? Mars?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. fheal

    What else could Newt do but climb on top of his soap box, and attempt to misdirect a perfectly respectable question. I'm frankly ashamed to be Southern and Christian, with that shameful near standing ovation from so many South Carolina hypocrites. They must read their bible differently than I do mine, for regardless that the words of came from a former mistress and now (2nd) ex-wive. Because when added to the fact that Mr Gengrich had previously told his first wive goodbye, because she was not young enough nor pretty enough to be First Lady. It paints a picture of little man with no morals, an out of control libido, and little respect for his solemn oath. He unabashedly acted as if he had been the unfortunate victim of some vindictive witch hunt, instead of merely being asked about his life's most meaningful relationships, and the latest news event of the day.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      You are totally misguided and uneducated. The american people see whats going on and its not going to work this time. NOT THIS TIME.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  11. gahh

    Gingrich is appalled, what about the American people? We're appalled that trash like this is trying to take over the highest office in our country. He's a liar and a cheat on 2 different wives. The people of SC make me sick. If you're true christians, you'll pass on this man. You reap what you sow, you poor pack of dummies.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  12. mmac

    You are misguided and uneducated. The american knows what is going on with the media and it is not going to work. NOT THIS TIME.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karmen

      Are you talking to yourself in the mirror again?

      January 20, 2012 at 7:23 pm | Report abuse |
  13. mmac

    Ive witness chris matthews say obama puts a thrill up his leg and he will do everything he can to make obama's presidency a success. Media bias? Americans know the truth.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duuuuuuhhhh.....

      Truth is, you're wrong.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Xavier Teixeira

    You guys at CNN need to find better reporters to as real questions that mean something ?
    Asking personal and silly personall questions about their lives shows how out of touch you guys at CNN are !!

    Sorry to say but get ride of that lousy King !!
    Useless and senseless and totaly unprofessional

    A bad day for CNN

    January 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Hometown Postville

    Gingrich had a good rebuttal, but "gahh" hit it right on.... "We're appalled that trash like this is trying to take over the highest office in our country." Don't try to appeal to the "Moral Majority" when you don't know how to keep your fly closed!! Newt Gingrich scares me and the people I've talked to say the same.

    January 20, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      you are in the minority.

      January 20, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • Duuuuuuhhhh.....

      Nope, you are mmcmcmccc...Newt's time is almost over, thank god.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
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