Overheard on CNN.com: Feisty Florida debate chock full of memorable moments
Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney sparred during Thursday night's Florida GOP debate.
January 27th, 2012
03:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Feisty Florida debate chock full of memorable moments

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.

Quite a debate was had on Thursday night ahead of the Florida GOP primary. Candidates sparred over a variety of issues, and the conversation was spirited both on stage and in our comments section.

On Romney's apparent air of dominance: Romney beats Gingrich at his own game

We saw our readers giving more praise for Mitt Romney after this debate than we have seen after other such events.

Phange: "Romney very clearly did what needed to be done yesterday. Not only did he make Newt look disheveled and decisively off-kilter, he presented himself as pragmatic and intellectual. With this being the last debate before the Florida primary, I think it's highly unlikely that Newt can recover in time to win the state."

sdpianomom: "One of my favorite moments; Romney praises his wife for her strength in battling cancer and MS. Then there's Gingrich, standing next to him, who cheated on his wives while they were battling those very same diseases."

Not everyone was buying what Romney was saying.

kinderlove: "Mitt is like a car salesman. Well rehearsed spiel. I'm not springing for the undercoat rust protection."

whocares45: "Mitt a car salesman, perhaps, but it is Gingrich who acts like a car buyer. He trades in his older model every six or seven years. Sorry Calista, the clock is ticking on you."

kinderlove: "I like Ron Paul."

mnmean: "I'll give you that Ron Paul is an interesting candidate. Rick Santorum is a whiny hypocritical mouth breather IMHO."

Thinking7: "Kind of like Obama who won the vote last election. Sad. It's the guys like Rick Santorum and Ron Paul who can do the job. They have the ethics and ability."

People also wanted to talk about the debates themselves as the weeks and months go by in this election season. Some were skeptical, but others have said the debates are important.

Amskeptic: "Can we please stop with the nail salon gossip? Is it really about tit-for-tat who-won-who-lost inane moments in the last of a series of nonsensical debates likened by one political analyst to a "goat rodeo clown show"? I see nothing in this article that helps the American voter make an informed decision of who is best qualified to lead the United States in perilous times. Does our media/journalist class have to pander to the lowest common denominator of your typical fifth grade lunchroom fight? Our country is foundering in a sea of incredible riches and enormous human potential, and these candidates are the best we can come up with? That is the newsworthy story right there. CNN could stand to up their game with more rigorous journalism and commentary."

P13: "In a way, yes, it is about that. The debates put potential presidents in very uncomfortable situations and demand that they think on their feet and maintain an air of authority and presence. I guess that could be called appearing presidential. It's not even entirely about what they say ... I mean, that's important too, although I don't believe we've ever had a president that stuck to everything he said during a campaign. But a lot of it's about how they appear; how they handle criticism and attacks. Obviously none of that's the end-all, be-all of whether a person will make a good president. But it's one measuring stick. People thought Rick Perry was a great candidate. He shot right to the top of the polls, until they saw him on a stage at the debates forced to explain his views and parry criticism."

Some of the issues discussed in the debate were especially relevant to Florida voters. We saw a lot of comments about NASA and the future of U.S. space exploration. Some were critical of Obama.

futon9999: "I live in Florida. What did Obama do that helped central Florida?! Nothing?  Ask NASA workers on the coast how the president helped them."

But then, a few of the more memorable comments referred to Newt Gingrich's ideas for a presence on the moon.

Time for a moon colony? Final florida push after contentious debate

SCDave: "I'm sure I'm prejudiced because my father worked at NASA, but a moon base wouldn't be a bad idea. Who knows what kind of mineral wealth lies there? Or advancements can be made like the ones the space program has already given us? Just saying. Not feasible right now."

opinion4: "I expect they will, state by state, pander snake oil to them with promises impossible to keep, much like one candidate's moon colony promise."

wishitbetter: "I wish Romney had asked Newt if he would recommend that Freddie Mac finance the housing on his moon colony."

Chainee: "If I had any faith at all that they would deliver on a moon colony, this raging liberal rocket scientist would switch my vote from Obama in a heartbeat."

skytag: "I think the moon colony is a great idea. We set it up and populate it with all the Republicans who want no government, no taxes, and know how to make it on their own with no help from anyone. Then we can check back in a couple of decades and see how it went."

Speaking of the moon ...

Paul and Santorum: Florida debate's most buzz-worthy moments

Ron Paul got some praise for his funny quips, one of them about said orbiting body: "Well, I don't think we should go to the moon. I think we maybe should send some politicians up there." Rick Santorum had some support from our commenters as well; CNN's analysts noted that he's shown a more forceful presence.

MEuRaH: "Ron Paul was hilarious. This was the first debate I enjoyed because everyone was on topic and didn't take too much time. I got to hear from everyone just about equally. I almost turned the channel early on when it was Newt vs Romney, but Paul and Santorum did a great job by getting the debate back on task. Paul's humor made for a great night overall. Best debate I've seen, great ideas from everyone, and I'm definitely pro-Paul now. he just seems more mature than the others, with great ideas, and a voting history to back it all up."

maff: "I gotta say that Rick (Santorum) looks strong. He is annoying sometimes, but that could be good in the oval office. I dont think he would bend or fold too often. I think he might try to really keep his promises. I say kick newt and romney out and let Paul and Rick battle it out. They are the only two that seem to want to stay on issues without distraction. Rick really picked apart Mitts healthcare plan by bringing up those mandatory fines...even if its only 8% of people. I also noticed that everyone was piggy-backing on what Paul had to say. No one really tries to challenge his credibility either."

toomanyviews: "Paul definitely 'won' the debate last night. He drew high applause from pretty much everything he said. Why can't people see he is the best choice? I mean, even Newt said Paul's been right for the last 25 years about what our monetary policy should be, and that's a huge deal since the other candidates don't take Paul seriously at all (did anyone else notice in response to Paul's answer to a question, Romney barely acknowledged Paul when "responding" to it?). This presidency is all about how we are going to deal with the money, so this should be the most important issue in which Paul has the best answers/ideas out of the pool."

Daddy5: "Santorum did great in this one. If I lived in Florida, he'd get my vote. He was passionate and articulate about real issues, not like the personal attacks that Gingrich and Romney kept pulling."

The Latino factor: VP Marco Rubio? The man in demand

When asked about which Hispanics they would include in their administration, Santorum suggested Florida Sen. Marco Rubio for a cabinet position, while Gingrich said Rubio might be more suited for a more "central and dignified" role. Our readers did not speak quite as kindly of the senator.

Guest: "Rubio is young and if he wants a political future, he best stay away from any of these candidates. None of these four remaining GOP candidates are worth hooking up your political wagon with as a running mate."

Guest: "What a joke, I am from Florida and Rubio has done nothing to distinguish himself here. Just why is he qualified for VP, because he is Hispanic (as am I)? I resent these panderers thinking Hispanics are too stupid to see through their pandering."

Meteorite: "Take it from this long-time Floridian. Rubio is just another politician and doesn't have any magical qualities that the rest of Washington doesn't have. He's another robot in the party ranks and he doesn't care one iota about the people below him on the ladder."

44Redhawk: "I cannot believe all the negative comments about Rubio. The man is brilliant, well spoken, and a true leader. I'm guessing most of you hardly know who he is."

GPastor: "Another slap in the face of Latinos by the GOP. To assume that Hispanic people only care about having a Hispanic on the Republican ticket to receive their votes. People of color in this country, and there are more than we know, are concerned about the issues that will give their families a better way of life. Their guy or gal, if Latino heritage, must be a strong leader as well. If a Latino was to become vice president on a GOP ticket, I would guess that he/she would not have a voice whatsoever in executive affairs."

What did you think about the debate? Who gave a strong performance, and who struggled? What moments were memorable? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. Tyrone


    Mitt Romney has said that President Obama has made America worse! His statement is never ever challenge by pundit (Liberal or Conservative). Every American knows Romney statement is a LIE! Or they are Republican that agenda is to blame President Obama for everything negative in the world! The truth is no President in America's history have receive the country in worse condition! President Obama receive the country with two wars ( Afghanistan and Iraq) 22 million jobs lost under G.W. Bush. At a rate of 750,000 a month many oversea never to return. A housing scam where Americans were losing home at a rate of 5,000 a day! Terrorist attacks being plan daily against America (none successful)! A Republican control house that cares more about defeating President Obama then the recovery of America! On top of all this happening to the country! President Obama has to deal with 47% more death threats against his life and his families lives then any President before him.

    Mitt Romney is a liar and all American that have benefited from the Presidency of President Obama should tell him that! The stimulus package save many American jobs and businesses! Like the victim of the BP spill that at first had a 75 million dollar recovery. President Obama negotiate a 20 billion dollar recovery from BP! First as for jobs it is much better there has been 25 months of growth. There would had been more growth had house Republicans past President Obama job bill. Bin Laden and 32 other high ranking terrorist are dead! Under President Obama direction and leadership! Romney is saying it would be better for America is those people were still alive planning to kill Americans! Mitt Romney is also saying that he does not want 32 million American to have healthcare only resident of Boston Mass! Romney is also saying he wants America military troops that is gay to be discriminate against while fighting and dying for America! Romney is saying the country would be better if 32 million were uninsured!

    Those thing have made the country worse in the mind of Romney! Well none of the things President Obama has done has made Mitt Romney less wealthy! Matter of fact all the Republican candidates under President Obama have made more money ten ever in their life! All benefit from the Bush tax cuts! Mitt Romney paid 13% in taxable income while 88% of American paid 35%! Now no one is saying that it is wrong to be rich. What many American and especially me is saying STOP LYING ROMNEY! Romney has made so many contradiction! Just the other day on a radio show Romney stated that the economy is getting better under President Obama!

    Bottom line Mitt Romney is a hypocrite that is sticking to the agenda of the Republican Party! Hate and dividing the country! Blame President Obama for anything and everything wrong in America and LIE LIE LIE! Like Newt Gingrich claim that President Obama increase food stamps. The truth the policy of G.W. Bush increase food stamps in America! The claim by Rick Santorum that Obama 's economy is the reason for high unemployment. TOTAL LIE! The truth the policy of G.W. Bush led to the economy losing jobs! President Obama has had 25 months of jobs growth and had his jobs bill not been blocked by Republican house. The job rate would be 7.3%! As for Ron Paul his claim that President Obama was wrong to kill a American terrorist that was plotting to murder Americans was wrong! He called for President Obama to be impeach! The truth the President job is to attack Americans from threats!

    As the Republican candidate talk about how bad the economy is they must also state NOT FOR THEM!

    January 29, 2012 at 8:11 am | Report abuse |
    • Kay Scullion

      Thank you for speaking the truth that no one wants to believe, but the numbers are there and if people would pull their head out of where the sun doesn't shine and smelled the lies in the air, they would think twice about pouring out that venom towards BArack Obama.

      January 31, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
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