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. Joe

    Unbelievable – Don't buy in to Newt's witty comebacks – that's why we are in the mess we are now. He is a politician – just full of hot air. Married three times and a True Conservative more like a True Adulter-

    January 20, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Johnny

    It's about time someone like Newt stands up to these self-righteous, self-important news media personalities.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip D. @ Donna B.

    Ron Paul, you say. He wants to have the fed audited. What do you think an audit of the fed would reveal? He's your man. Auditing the fed is his platform, and has been for years. What might an audit reveal about US and about our leaders?(remember, we've never had a leader who would allow US to audit the fed even though we ask each year)

    January 20, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. brenda

    THANKS CNN I AM FROM CHARLESTON S.C AND I THINK I WILL BE VOTING NEWT!!!!Think next time before your first question is such a lberial stupied question.Go ask Bill how many women he had in the White House.I think the media goes to far.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • ChrisM

      brenda, are you really that ***** stupid? do you know anything about Newt. He is ethicly and morally bankrupt and he is definately corrupt. Dont let Newt and his mistress/wife anywhere near the White House,

      January 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Donovan Baskerville

    Wow......the cool aid drinkers are riled. Their left loving media didn't learn to temp Gingrich, even though they watched Juan Williams of FOX get fried by Newt three nights before. Who will be the next socialist to get torched by Newt?

    January 20, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Philip

    ...and we can hardly blame Newt Gingrich for our State Legislative lawmakers and our very own Supreme Court being overrun by men who cheat on their wives and boyfriends, and women who'd rather abort than switch(to fidelity). These who represent the few have had their immoral views imposed on US the many. The Justice Dept's recent switch to include "raype" of a young man by an older gay man as a legal definition totally erased the Supreme Courts opinion on this matter. All morality aside, we simply cannot afford to keep humping everything in sight. Too many diseases and too many costly boy raype cases. We need to streamline our Justice system to accomodate the plethora of se xual deviants we have to deal with these days. A 3 person jury would be fine by me for the Sandusky(s)...and if guilty, he covers the cost of waterboarding Mrs. Sandusky. Our limit of liability is the customary 70 bucks.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Philip

    All talking about Newt Gingrich's private escapades while totally ignoring what Ron Paul has been saying for years and years. You all do realize that Ron Paul IS the original 'mcCoy'. HE is THE man who has been SINGLEHANDEDLY pushing for an end to America's "economic woes" that are nothing more than a yo-yo with a string attatched to one single foreign bank, the headquarter bank for all of the world's federal reserves/central banks. If we could get the fed off of our backs, we would be better off. It's like they rent US our own money. And invest our futures in themselves and their personal agendas. MOF. March on fed.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Philip

    mof? No. We can't be inciting a rebellion. Hmmm. How to get people upset enough to think but not so upset so as to rebel. Oh! That's easy. Don't talk about religion and politics. Doh.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Philip

    @Donna B. Do you see any link between Ron Paul being ignored and him being the only guy who wants to audit the fed? (you've ignored this question so far. A simple Y or N will suffice for now)

    January 20, 2012 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. wants2know

    Wow. I can't believe I was a registered Republican for 20 years. I must have a been a complete dolt. This is the best that party has to offer? And people wonder why this country is in the state it is? Glad I became Independent. At least I don't have to receive the mailers and phone calls reminding me what a bunch of idiots call themselves Republicans these days. The democrats aren't much better, but at least Obama has a good brain between his ears.

    January 20, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Philip

    Am I plugging for Ron Paul? That would be like plugging for a snowball in the mythical greek hades. (hell). And really, that ball melted long ago. We hear of 'NWO' conspiracy theories. As if on single foreign bank hasn't been running the worlds economies for years. Alex Jones never talks about HOW they plan on getting you to burn your flags now that your wallets are burned and go-along with a One World Government gladly. International borders fell for 'Profit' decades ago. When, and HOW will they fall for people. What could possibly end patriotism worldwide?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  12. aubreyzych

    It's definitely a proud day when you realize you live in a country where you can cheat on your wife and still get a standing ovation.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:20 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Frank PInto

    Thank you CNN for making me change my vote to Newt Gingrich. We finally have a candidate who is not afraid to stand up to the Obama lapdogs in the liberal media. You are despicable indeed.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:40 pm | Report abuse |
  14. ChrisM

    Does anyone really want Newt and his mistress/wife representing the United States of America?

    January 20, 2012 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. banasy©

    @Donnna B:
    Why do you spell your name with 3 "n"s?
    I've never seen that spelling before.

    Curious: who is your candidate? Do you have one?

    Everyone here knows who I'm going to vote for.

    January 20, 2012 at 9:45 pm | Report abuse |
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