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. Swleo

    Normally, I prefer to leave the bedroom news out of the political arena...it might have been enough to just report it rather than bring it up in the debate. However, Newt Gingrich went after President Clinton with a revengence over Clinton's fling with Monica Lewinski while at the same time having a long tern affair with his mistress, the current Mrs. Gingrich. What voters should be reminded about is his hypocritical behavior. His indignation, acting as if he were taking the high moral road, was amusing given that he would not hesitate to go after a political foe for the same thing - and he wouldn't be nearly so polite about it as was John King. So, all things considered, it was fair play.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Philip

    @Stoneman. Good post. Nut you forgot to mention that the US of A came out from under international bankrupcy protection on Nov. 12, 1998. We were forced to file for Int'l BK protection during the Great Depression, just like the US gov. had to after defaulting on loans taken out to finance the Revolution. In fact, the USA has been bankrupt and insolvent for the majority of it's short history. We've been borrowing against our childrens future for over 200 years, and have it nearly perfected now.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. fletch r

    u people need to get a life.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Typical Dysfunctional Reactions

    "Mommy? Is Uncle Ray supposed to be touching me there?" How DARE you ask me that question before dinner. Just who do you think you are!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • LMAO

      Are you saying Newt is a peddy? Because that would be the straw that broke lard ass's back!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  5. liars


    No wonder right wingers are so amazingly dumb. They get their "news" from a source that clearly lies to them. And one of the consistent lies is that there is some sort of "liberal media elite" and therefore you can only trust the liars at fox.

    Newt, on his thriud marriage. Twice leaving his wife for a mistress, and twice lying about it. The second time having an affair while trying to take down the elected President of the United States for - having an affair - only has to point a finger and scream" liberal medai!!!!!" and the rightards swoon and collectively wet themselves. Values voters? Yeah right. At least stop lying to yourselves. You are not "values voters" or ":Christians" you are hypocrits who are furious that a colored fellah is in the White House and doing a better job than any republicon president since Teddy Roosevelt. (There have only been two good republicon presidents – Lincoln and TR – both of whom would not be allowed in today's gop, and one respectable republicon, Ike, who would be a liberal Democrat by today's standards/)

    So the "liberal elite" is attacking the guy who most liberals secretly hope and pray is the gop nominee???? newt may be able to fool the rabid foaming at the mouth tea baggers, but he is burnt toast in a general election.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • headinhome7

      Liars?????? I got TWO(That`s 2) words "Fer Ya", "Bill Clinton" and you dummies believed him for eight years! Liars?????? Please!!!!!!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Earl Williams

      Kudos brother!!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • mikaman3000

      You have a lot of hate in you sir/mam. Not sure what happened to in your past, but whatever it is, whether your father r@ped you or your momma didn't love you enough, I truly pity you. You really shouldn't walk through life so consumed by hate. It really does you a great disservice. Hopefully your daddy will pull out soon.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Zimmerman

    It's not about the divorces, Newt, but about the adultery. You cheated on at least two of your wives. You lied to them, you deceived them, you betrayed them. Why should WE trust you when ou've shown time and time again that you think of yourself first and those you pledged, before God, to be loyal and faithful to second. What else are you hiding?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Karmen

    Man, that Uncle Ray gets around!

    January 20, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. @Donna B.

    There isn't a Democrat nor Republican leader in the land who wants to see Ron Paul elected. And that goes for most Americans too. Most of US know that there's something fishy about Obama and Bush2, Clinton and Bush1, Reagan and carter, etc never allowing US to see what the fed does behind closed doors. Most people are smart enough to tie-in any improprities the fed may be involved in withthe stock and housing markets that have been hit. Most can smell it, but would really rather not talk about it. As if these politicians can be trusted like a doctor.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnna B

      I disagree -- there are MANY MANY Listening finally to Ron Paul and realizing he's right about everything!!!!

      How can anyone not see it-- Ron Paul's got it right-– his honesty, integrity and uncorruptedness sticks out like a sore thumb amongst all the other rich, phoney–say what you want to hear, status quo bums!!!. How dare any of those corrupt fools laugh at Ron Paul !!! Our Military backs Ron Paul more then any of the others combined for a reason!!!
      Because our military has good sound judgement and common sense-- they have it right : RON PAUL!!!!! ! We need our faith to be restored in this country. ......and the only person that would restore that faith-- is the one man in this race who stands for goodness- freedom, liberty, peace and prosperity- and all that is good about our country

      January 20, 2012 at 7:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. scott

    Using the same tactics Palin used. Blame his issues and failures on "the media". The fact is had this been a story about a democrat running for president the very same media would have reported it, and Newt would have been very supportive of that reporting. And so would the hypocrites in the audience.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      uhhhhhh they didnt report john edwards cheating on his dying wife during the elections.

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

    All republicans know that the republican candidate will have to compete agains obama and the media. It was refreshing for the republican people to see a candidate who is bold and courageous enough to take them on.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Karmen

      Now I KNOW you're not talking about gingy.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Thomas Young

    The reason I switched from CNN to Fox 4 years ago was because of the way Cnn treated the Republicans in the last election . The way John King treated Gingrich makes me sure I made the correct move . Goodbye again , Tommy young

    January 20, 2012 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Donnna B


    January 20, 2012 at 7:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryW

      Ron Paul is an insane psychopath. Clearly he will represent you accurately.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Gabrielle

    Newt Gingrich led the morality charge against Bill Clinton claiming that a cheater is a cheater, and Clinton was thus unfit to be president. Gingrich and fellow Republicans claimed that you could not be immoral in your personal life and moral and ethical in your work life, and that marital infidelity is proof of bad character. Clinton, like Gingrich, turned to pastors for guidance during their personal crises. Clinton, unlike Gingrich, did not abandon his marriage(s), but asked for forgiveness and recommitted to his marriage. Live by the sword, die by the sword. I can forgive Newt for infidelity, I don't think it is any of my business. Being a HYPOCRITE is what makes him untrustworthy and unfit to lead. Doesn't being run out of Congress for countless ethics violations reveal his true (lack of) character? His self-righteousness hypocrisy makes me sick. Another elitist who thinks even his own rules don't apply to him.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnna B

      LARRY W - You are the insane one !! Surely one of those WAR MONGERING idiots ! A President Paul would have caught Bin Laden in Tora Bora because he is smart enough to have kept his eye on the proper target !!! and many lives would have been saved with that kind of competency!!! not to mention he would'nt have bankrupted our country by starting a war in Iraq that never should have been waged!!!! The war was against Bin Laden and El Quida-not the people of Iraq!
      Our military backs RON PAUL more then any of the other candidates combined --so your saying our military is wrong!
      I don't think so....... its poor misguided, brainwashed by the corrupt media people like you that just form an opinion without knowing the facts -and stay close minded like that -– You obviously don't know very much about Ron Paul.
      Ron Paul unlike the others has no DIRT following him-- a decent man married to the same woman for 40-50 yrs who has never waivered in his ideals. He stands for Liberty, Freedom, Peace and Prosperity and all that is good with our country. HIs ideas to stop sending foreign aide oversees and instead feed our own starving people is really a goofy idea –right ?? !!! You fool !!! getting our troops out of other countrys and build up our military here at home securing our own borders dosn't make sense to you ??? Youj're insane–not me!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. scott

    There appears to be a some sort of blanket ignorance about this whole "liberal media" thing. Guess what folks, the "liberal media" reported it when it was a democrat having an affair, or getting someone pregnant, or doing something illegal, or or or. What apparently makes it "the liberal media" is when that very same media reports ANYTHING negative about a republican. You can't have it both ways.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  15. @liars

    Ron Paul is the only presidential candidate in history who, if elected, would personally see to it that the federal reserve system located inside of US borders recieved a thourough audit by Americans. (rather than just audits done by foreigners at the fed banks headquarter bank in Basel Switzerland)

    January 20, 2012 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
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