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. Jean K

    I am not a Republican and I do not support Newt Gingrich or condone his behavior. I do, however, agree that he deserved applause for his response to John King. This is an inappropriate question for a presidential debate. There are many national issues which need to be discussed so the public knows where the candidates stand. This needs to be addressed but that was gthe wrong time and place.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  2. scott

    Guess what folks. Newt himself thought the media should dig quite deeply into personal lives when it was democrat suspected of having an affair. Funny how that works, isn't it?

    January 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. scott

    mmac – You clearly can't tell the difference between NEWS and personal opinion.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      scott, i said the media. Evidently you cant read much less learn.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:58 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Mike

    Newt was before a"friendly" crowd last night. For a group of so called moral purists, their reaction to Newts affairs was a showing of how far the Republican base has deteriorated in its' moral compass. Their hatred of Obama just screams of racial undertones. They believe they have found a "safe" way to show their racial leaning without being called racists.

    Once Newt wins the Republican nomination there will be a judgement by all of the American people on how far they want to go with Newt and his total lack of any kind of a moral and religious value. Everything he has done these last few years is for today, none of it has to do with a change in his person. He has just changed his clothes, he is still the same Newt of yesteryear, mean, immoral and dangerous.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      kinda like how Obama was in front of a friendly crowd last night at the Apollo. Look, judge people using facts, not emotions.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. mmac

    That made it difficult to prove – and to print – the rumors that John Edwards had cheated on his seriously ill wife while running for president. Reporters were left to poke around the edges of a potentially career-ending scandal in search of an opening. [...]

    And it never was confirmed to the AP’s satisfaction or, apparently, to the satisfaction of others until Edwards himself owned up to the infidelity in an interview with ABC News.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • scott

      You claimed this issue was not reported by the liberal media during the election. Name which outlet (ABC, NBC, CBS, etc.,) that did NOT cover it prior to his ending the campaign.

      January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. scott

    mmac – When you say the liberal media didn't report the John Edwards affair, name which outlets you mean. Because I'm looking them up, and they all did. So be specific and name them so I can prove you wrong.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac


      January 20, 2012 at 8:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      SCOTT, Here is what the media reported on the day edwards dropped out of the race.

      Video: Brian Williams takes Newsvine questions “John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it — by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate,” Clinton said.

      Obama, too, praised Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. At a rally in Denver, he said the couple has “always believed deeply that two Americans can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose,” Obama said. “So while his campaign may have ended, this cause lives on for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.”

      January 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • David H

      I think you miss the point, it's not who's reporting what, it's Gingrich's actions that deserve the reporting.

      Not so long ago, whilst hiding an affair of his own, Gingrich was the one bleating at every media opportunity about Clinton. If you recall, there was no, "Clinton's like me and makes mostakes" – Gingrich was so holy that this disgraceful act would bring the wrath of God, you name it.
      All the while Gingrich was doing the same thing, and perhaps worse. His first wife he walked out on because she had a disabled kid.

      So, when you put it all together, Gingrich wants understanding when HE is caught out, he doesn't ever come clean, it's always leaked out, but woe betide anyone who does the same things as hiim.... They are the scum of the Earth.

      Is it narcisscism? Is it some other mental problem? The more who report the multiple personalities of Gingrich, the better.

      Because he says he's honest, but seems to get caught out with his pants down a few too many times – just like Rush he wants all your sympathy...

      But they never have any for anyone but themselves.

      Is that a Republican value? Indeed.

      January 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Trending

    Remembering Gingrich from the 1990s, his role as Speaker, and his activities the last 12 years, I'd skip this comment except for one thing. If it had been anyone else other than Gingrich, he would have mopped them across the floor of the debate for their transgressions regardless of how far in the past it was. Gingrich has been in politics long enough to know that any question is fair game, so he should have expected it and been prepared to respond to it.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. juli

    why is it that CNN, when replaying the debate from last night (1-19-2012) omitted, yes edited the debate-taking out the booing of your John King, when he tried to over look Ron Paul for a question, and jump to a commercial? Glad the audience set the stage and wouldn't allow that to happen. We tuned in to hear ALL the candidates, not 3 out of 4.
    And WHY did we have to hear the panel on the Anderson Cooper after show, keep talking about John King and the stupid question about the fool Newt? We get it, he asked the question, he responded in his dramatic self. What a waste of an hour show. Poor Anderson Cooper having to sit before that panel of newscasters/political panel discussing the iincident, over and over and over again.
    II must add – What a horrible debate, I think CNN liked that John King asked the Newt question, and then we hand to hear about it all night and all day over, and over, and over, and over again. Who cares? Get someone in there to run the debate, that doesn't get walked over, as John King did. The commentator should set rules on how long winded these candidates can speak. It was NOT the best debate.

    January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Donnna B

      Juli- I don't think John King was going to a commercial -I believe he had just let the other three talk so long w/ their views on the abortion question, that he was looking to go to a new question and just wanted to not give Ron Paul his turn at the question--he wanted to move on to a new question and decided to overlook Paul (what else is new!!)--–I too was soooooo happy that the audience booed & insisted Dr. Paul get his turn at the question. It's only fair !!!

      But this unfair treatment to Ron Paul has been going on all along in this race. The media has been very blatently treating Ron Paul as though he does not exsist. THAT IS WHAT IS TRULLY APPAULING --not the stupid Newt telling the media he was appauled about the question asked-- The way the media has ostrasizied and ignored Ron Paul has been nothing short of CORRUPT AND EVIL !!! It's disgusting-- how can they get away with treating him like that???? What are we a communitst country?? They are shaping peoples minds with what THEY want the masses to think by their bias coverage which blatently is ignoring Ron Paul as even being in the race...... It's so obvious!! Every American should be up in arms about this !! It's totally not fair and should not be allowed -- and yes I watched it too, the whole hour commentary after the debate all they talked about was Romney, Gingrich and Santorum--never not even once did they mention Ron Pauls name-
      This is a travisty!! I am trully outraged over this-–

      Here you have a decent man with no dirt going on-- married to the same woman 40 or 50 yrs--the only one up there that was in the military (and he is the one the military backs–not the other fools!)-- he's a patriot for liberty, freedom, peace and prosperity and all that is good with this country-he's had the same views for 20+ years-never waivering-and more and more people are seeing that his views are the right most sensible ideas for how to make our country strong and prosperous again--- you have this kind of honest, uncorrupt man--who stands there like a rose amongst a bunch of weeds!!! --He oozes integrity and goodness -–and he is laughed at by the other candidates and virtually ignored by the media..... EVEN THO HE HAS DROVES OF PEOPLE THAT SUPPORT HIM !!! THE MILITARY IS NOT WRONG !!!! Bringing all our troops home to build our military up again and be strong & secure our own borders--to not police the world-butt out and concentrate on our own country and our own economy. ..... to stop sending foreign aid to all these other countrys when we have starving people in our own country that need to be fed.!!! Ron Paul is the man-– I hope America will see that dispite the crooked media trying their damdest to prevent them from seeing it !!!!

      January 20, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Dante666

    If the Republicans are lookiing for the right loser against Obama – I vote Santorum

    January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm | Report abuse |
  10. bill

    gingrich, the truth hurts doesn't it!

    January 20, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Reg Bird

    Newt had a long time to rehearse his speech, in fact if you watch some old vedios of his answers to the same questions, you will see the that. He is a politician who will lie and look in to the camera with a look of innociens.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. past and present voter

    Everyone "Wake Up", man or women , Gingrich has lied "Twice" to two wives and as for his third , when she is no longer useful she will also join the ranks. This should tell you something about him, this is a pattern. Not only has he lied to his former wives he has also lied to Congress and the american people, when he was "Speaker" Why do you think he was the only one in history that got the ax ...and fined Newt Gingrich 's only true love is "Newt" not our country or the american people. He may have said "John King" is despicable but he is unconsciousably and extremely unethicial. He also a massive ego and his along with delusions of grandger I would not trust him being near any red button. Believe me any one who was their when he was in power knows the truth. For that very reason I refuse to swollow his lies .From his response and arrogant attitude he somehow feels (above the realm of natural intelligence and reason) that he doesn't have explain his character flaws, while to this "Voter" he does. How dare him act above the frey, he is a pompas a__, But I guess someone who compares himself to many of "The Great World Leadrers" feel s he doesn't have to answer the common man.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Little Susie

    Lookit all the peepo taking the bait. There's Mr. McGoo (Ron Paul) whispering "audit the fed", and all people hear is Fatso and his wet noodle. Mommy?

    January 20, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. mmac

    scott, here is what the media reported on the day edwards dropped out of the race.

    Video: Brian Williams takes Newsvine questions “John Edwards ended his campaign today in the same way he started it — by standing with the people who are too often left behind and nearly always left out of our national debate,” Clinton said.

    Obama, too, praised Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth. At a rally in Denver, he said the couple has “always believed deeply that two Americans can become one, and that our country can rally around this common purpose,” Obama said. “So while his campaign may have ended, this cause lives on for all of us who still believe that we can achieve that dream of one America.”

    Now greenhorn show me the evidence.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wet Noodle Platform

    Think of how much it would cost overly promiscuous politicians to pay for TV commercials that gave them the airtime that their improprieties have. Like, a halftime superbowl commercial of Monica Lewinsky spread-eagle in the oval office. That fiasco gave Clinton worldwide acclaim as a "regular kind of guy".Yep. The next best thing to xanaxing your political wife is to get caught. People think it's normal to cheat.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
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