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. saywhat

    I have doubts whether either of them would be able to stand up to President Obama come final debates. Even with the intellectually challenged Gingrich extracting every ounce of his 'brawn' for his much touted 'in your face' ploy.

    January 27, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • gimmesometruth


      I'm an independent and my wife is a Democrat. We both voted for McCain last time and we think Obam has been one of the worst Presidents in our lifetime. However, if Romney is nominated, we will have to vote for Obama. We won't like it but we are not stupid and we can only hope that Obama improves a lot his second term or else a good Republican candidate is finally nominated next time, but it seems the Republican establishment wishes to preside over their riches as America is betrayed by the political parties for self interest and special interests. One can only hope that Gingrich is nominated. At least he will put up a good fight and who knows maybe he will do a Reagan win.

      January 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      So what you are saying is if it's Newt you would vote for him over Romney...you got to be joking, I'm an independent to and one with a long memory...of which I am sure you don't have, Romney is no prize, but Newt is Bill Clinton and Nixon wrapped up in one package...censored by his ow party, blatant liar, was part of the machine that made DC as corrupt as it is today, cheated on two wives while they were gravely ill...need I go on...you can't be serious?? And can you say Freddie Mac...if you believe he was only a historical adviser to them...I got a bridge to sell you.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:08 am | Report abuse |
    • Really?

      Oh and stop insulting Reagan by comparing ANYTHING he did with Newt...please.

      January 28, 2012 at 12:09 am | Report abuse |
  2. Jj

    God I really can't stand newt and what kind of name is that anyways? Isn't that a slimy salamander

    January 27, 2012 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini©™

    Both Romney and Gingrich have methods of appearing to be on top of a situation. We will see more of this competition of the airs, and then Obama will remind us that he also has a few tricks of intimidation.

    January 27, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. TORI©

    I may be in the minority here but I am liking Ron Paul so far. The rest of these GOP fools are out as far as I'm concerned.

    January 27, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. leeintulsa

    ron paul is cool, he's just barking up the wrong tree

    January 27, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Greg Kells

    His father was born in Mexico to American citizens. His grandparents lived in Mexico for a while, but were always US citizens. If I'm not mistaken McCain was born out of the country as well, but on a military base which I think is technically still considered American soil.

    January 27, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. DoNotWorry

    We are demonizing Newt Gingrich? Take a look at his record, he demonizes himself. Newt's father and grandfather were U.S. citizens. Mexico does not allow anchor babies. Since his family did not get citizenship in Mexico, they were merely resident aliens. They are all U.S. citizens, no matter than they were born on Mexican soil. I will not vote for Romney, but Gringrich is such a sleaze he is impossible.

    January 27, 2012 at 11:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dan

    Why would you vote for Newt, Romney, or Santorum? It only makes sense to vote for Ron Paul!

    January 28, 2012 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  9. anthony vaughn

    I'm pretty certain that NASA seen Newt coming long ago. Newts suggestion of a lunar colony months ago was targeted at Florida's vote. NASA is much smarter than you think Newt-as they have seen cuts for the last 3 decades. To make such a multi-trillion promise/suggestion was certainly laughed upon by millions of Floridian's. Paul's hit on it was loudly applauded! I'm a poor fool-cannot afford television and internet at the same time-so you can see what I chose-so that I could find truths.. I'm voting drastic measures this turning point year.. I pick Ron Paul!!!

    January 28, 2012 at 8:02 am | Report abuse |
  10. John Greene

    Do Romney and Ron Paul not know about Helium 3?

    The Chinese and Russians do, which is why they are ramping up their heavy lift capability in anticipation of strip mining it off the surface of the moon.

    You would think with the bad taste of depending upon countries like Saudi Arabia for their oil still fresh in their mouths that Americans would be more proactive about potential future supplies.

    January 28, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CNNER44

    It seemed like Romney knew all the questions that were coming to him. Every question Wolf threw at Gingrich was a set up trap that Romney knew how to counter. The way CNN also asked 90% of the question was designed to be Romney-Gingrich or Rick-Paul. Like the way the liberal media has deceived us as a nation was evident again. Remember how they built up McCain in the primaries then killed him after he won by saying he was too old to be president? Lo and behold the question came up again, this time at Ron Paul. I bet you when Obama would be debating the republicans, the liberal media would either "leak out" the questions to Obama or make it a favorable one for him. We are living in the worst American society that is being shaped and led by liberal minds that says what? They say they support the senior citizens and children, but look at their abortion policies: more than 300,000 fetuses or babies were killed/aborted in 2011 alone! Remember Sen. Nelson promised by Obama that no tax money was to be used for abortion in Obamacare? Well we are finding out that tax monies will be used for killing babies in their mother's wombs and now they have made the morning after abortion pill available to or teen girls. Only the stupid, blind-democrat followers, or God-less will agree to the above killing of babies and the decay of our once great nation. If you only knew how they indoctrinate our kids in school to repeatedly bash our conservative leaders and ideas, you won't be voting Democrat for the rest of your lives. Every move they make is engineered to deceive and keep European and socialist values pervasive from Hollywood showing our kids broken family after another or endless relationships that end in divorce like changing spouses like a flat tire, to teaching our kids to hate this nation as evidenced by the Occupy Wall Street gangs. Where will we be if we keep allowing their great lies to continue, America. Vote FOR America this coming election. Help America get back on its track. Humble yourselves to our God that blessed us before and will bless us again if we seek Him. Have mercy on your kids, nephews, and nieces who have no idea that the America that they are seeing now will not be like the one when we won world wars, when more people respected each other, and were prayerful.

    January 28, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  12. arale norimaki

    to the GOP Cubans on the ballot means nothing to the general population
    of the Hispanic community. Most Latin Americans don't like Cubans

    Is their a double standard regarding illegal aliens when it comes to Cubans entering the US?

    January 28, 2012 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Philip


    January 28, 2012 at 11:08 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Philip

    @TORI ,If you like Ron Paul so much why don't you marry him?

    January 28, 2012 at 11:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. zippy

    If Gingrich considers himself a good citizen, if he loves this country, really cares about all the problems we have, he should step out. He knows better than anybody else that he carries a huge baggage, and everything will come out at the end if he were elected to defeat Obama. He should be honest, and admit that the only one who can defeat Obama is Romney. Because no one has been able to find him any dirty laundry. He is inteligent, he has class, (something Gingrich doesn't have) he is a gentlement, he appears to be an honest man, he looks calm, he has a lot of experiencia in the business world, (Gingrich doesn't) If Gingrich were elected, the Dems will destroy him, they will bring up his huge baggage which Obama doesn't have. Gingrich has been married 3 times, he was not capable of making happy his first, and second wife, and when his second wife was diagnosed with cancer, he left her to marry the mistress he had for 6 years. Romney has a beautiful family, he has been married only to one woman which I think was his first, and only girlfriend. Obama too has a beautiful family.

    January 28, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Report abuse |
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