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. Bob T

    What goes around is coming back to Newt. He deserves to be asked the marriage question after leading the $52 million dollar witch hunt against Clinton, while claiming the Democrats had no moral ground to lead. As if only Republican have moral values

    January 20, 2012 at 10:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Anantha

      I am amazed when people think that Newt is conservative. I believe he is too liberal and has not shown any character for leading the nation. I do give it to him to fool the people about forgiveness and christian redemption. I think people voting for him forget the notion of forgiveness which is not to carry hatred and does not mean – place them on a pedestal. Even god gave pain to Solomon and David for their wrong doings and did not mean that he did not forgive them...

      January 20, 2012 at 11:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ann

    The party of "family values" can no longer make that claim if they are willing to put the Gingrichs in the White House. We as Americans would have a First Lady that is no "lady". I wouldn't want to explain their relationship and marriage to one of my children. I just Newt's vows didn't include "in sickness and health". No voter can claim they didn't realize what a sleazy couple this pair is.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Philip

    Ron Paul isn't a republican. And all you will remember is Newt Gingrich's escapdes anyway. Again even. So go make OJ's glove fit while the Clintons's land-scam their way to the White House if ya want.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Philip

    What on earth could persuade all of the world's peoples to abolish patriotism?

    January 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. An actual 'original thought'

    Abolish patriotism worldwide. Have you ever heard of this? No, you have not. This is what's known as an original thought. No. NOT "thinking outside of the box". Living inside of a box that's bigger than yours, and posting what I've found. What could possibly bring-about an end to patriotism, worldwide?

    January 20, 2012 at 10:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. orlando smith

    We heard hypocrites cheering one of their own. Just because Gingrich "asked his god(small g intended) for forgiveness" doesn't mean he is now entitled to run for the highest office in the land and not be held to account. What is very different in his case is that he led the persecution of a President over infidelity AS HE WAS COMMITTING THE VERY ACT!! So he calls being questioned about it a despicable act?!!! It is the height of arrogance that only Gingrich can pull off. "AND THE HYPOCRITES GO WILD!!!

    January 20, 2012 at 10:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • mmac

      let me educate you. What newt was complaining about and what the audience applauded was the liberal media covering for obama and trying to bring down all the republican nominees. John edwards is a classic example of the liberal media NOT reporting his affair while he was running for president. The liberal media actually had the nerve to make fun of the national enquirer trying to cover up for johnny boy. Turned out the enquirer was right.

      January 20, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Report abuse |
  7. jFritz

    Loud mouthed, pointed-finger schoolyard bully right out of the Fix news playbook. Can't defend himself with reason, so he shouts. Hmmmm. Golden mike, Great American, or Lonesome Roads his mentor? Given the news of the day, John King asked the appropriate question.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mmac

    During the 2008 elections, there was a website called "journolist" where the liberal media met to conspire against the republicans to help obama. It got outed after the election and they shut it down. MEDIA BIAS? THE AMERICAN PEOPLE KNOW.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mike-Bell

    How many remember the dressing downs they got as children?
    Can the American People endure one when Newt is President?
    Obama already told us we were lazy. What could Newt possible say? Oh, he has already said that we have lost our work ethic.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:05 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Biotechdev

    Gingrich was great – opening the presidential debate with a question about his previous marriage was as despicable and sleazy as the media has been, But I'm sure we will see more of it this year,

    January 20, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. ryanwi21

    If you want to see what the United States will look like with Newt Gingrich as President, just look at Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana...where attacks on working Americans will continue as long as the Republicans have political power. The Republican Party: dedicated to bringing back the age of the Robber Barons.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Biotechdev

    CNN – censoring my comments again – have screen shot – also have place to show them and show how you edit out comments you don't like

    January 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Biotechdev

      There you go – proof of CNN bias. They only print my comments here when I threaten exosure. I'll try again – starting the presdidentail primary debate with a personal question on Gingrich's first marriage was as despicable as the mass media gets. He did a great job blasting them for their total ack of objectivity. How about the media focus questions for both the GOP candidates AND Obama on their plans for handling the copuntry's major issues

      January 20, 2012 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Sorry you're having trouble posting comments. My guess is your comment may have gotten snagged temporarily by our spam filter. The spam filter sometimes pulls things, and then another filter puts them back, or we go back and restore comments that were mistakenly pulled.

      January 21, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Biotechdev

    Didn't save the screen shot for my last comment- CNN wouldn't post it. Very funny moderator. But I have an Internet news source very interested in this..so will try again and save the screen shot. Opening a presidential debate with a question on a candidate's first marriage is as despicable as the media has gotten thus far, How about you focus on asking questions of both the GOP AND Obama on real issue sfacing the country? Like Obama's massive spending?

    January 20, 2012 at 11:19 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Biotechdev

    Thanks CNN. Have all the screen shots of my comments that you won't post here if you disagree with my point of view.
    . Can't wait to post them elsewhere. Was great to get clear evidence of your bias

    January 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      Thanks for your comment. I understand your concern, but to my knowledge no human is sitting here cherry-picking comments. I found two of your posts in our spam filter, but that's it ... will send you an e-mail to follow up.

      January 20, 2012 at 11:31 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Wayne

    Newt has a history of pointing the finger at others and not taking any blame himself. He will be a good choose for the GOP. Having a hard time waiting to see who he selects for a running mate, I hear Sara has no job.

    January 20, 2012 at 11:21 pm | Report abuse |
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