November 16th, 2007
12:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Top 10 debate zingers

Jeanne Moos takes a look at the top debate zingers so far in this elections season.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - With over 20 presidential debates so far in this election season, the candidates have gotten their fair share of zingers and one-liners in. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look at the 10 most memorable ones.

Among those on the list:

Mike Huckabee: "We've had a Congress that spends money like John Edwards at a beauty shop." (May 15)

Joe Biden: "Rudy Giuliani - there's only three things he mentions in a sentence: a noun, a verb, and 9/11." (October 30)

Mitt Romney: "This is a lot like ‘Law and Order.' It has a huge cast. The series seems to go on forever, and Fred Thompson shows up at the end." (October 9)

Mike Gravel: "Some of these people frighten me." (April 26)

Joe Biden: "Dennis [Kucinich], the thing I like most about you is your wife." (July 23)

John McCain (on Clinton's support of a Woodstock museum): "I wasn't there. I am sure it was a cultural and pharmaceutical event. I was tied up at the time." (October 21)

Watch Jeanne Moos' report for the complete list and add your own suggestions in the comment section below!

Or better yet, catch the Democrats go at it in Las Vegas – again this weekend: Sat. & Sun., 6 & 10 p.m. ET.  It was the most watched debate of the primary season.

Filed under: Presidential Debates
soundoff (78 Responses)
  1. DJ, Los Angeles, Calif

    Joe Biden takes the cake. How in the world did Dennis get a wife like that???

    She is half his age and twice his height.

    November 16, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  2. Michelle Nelson, Lethbridge, Canada

    Joe Biden's comment on Rudy Giuliani may be one for the ages. How true, how true....

    I can't believe Biden is not higher in the polls. He would make a great President or VP or Secretary of State.

    November 16, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  3. Jared, Arlington, VA

    Top Ten? I only count Six.

    November 16, 2007 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  4. Ryan Provo, UT

    Please do not allow Wolf Blitzer to moderate another debate. He has been painfully bad in every debate he's done. I mean either let the people finish their sentences or just cut them off! As it was every single answer had Wolf himming and hawing in the background for the last 30 seconds.

    Oh and I heartily agree with the outrage here about news networks anointing candidates for us long before the primaries. Its ridiculous. And CNN is especially bad. I mean two of their major analysts last night were former Clinton Advisors! It was shameful how so much of the post debate commentary focused on whether or not Hillary was back on her game. Literally Shameful! Like, as in, CNN should be issuing public apologies kind of shameful. What about Kucinich's strong performance? Or Bidens? They don't have a chance and its really not fair.

    November 16, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  5. Walt, Belton, TX

    Okay, Alex. The answer is "who are Joe Biden, Mike Huckabee and Mike Gravel?"

    How about "Unknown Politicians for $400?

    November 16, 2007 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  6. Skyla Sequim,WA

    Harry in Iowa: I completely agree with you – that is why I have chosen my candidate and he is NOT mainstream, but he WILL stand up to other candidates and their double-talk (hint: he has been excluded from debates since he stood up to Hillary). Alas, CNN and other networks to continue to be pawns in the clinton game of chess; we will never get to see a true debate and the media will choose our president FOR US.

    That aside, these are pretty funny. Kudos to the poster who mentioned Kucinich's quote from last night (which has got to be one of the best ones yet).

    November 16, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Eric, Mediaiscorruptsville USA

    Blitzer is a sham. That was so embarrassing. He asked the two stupidest questions I've ever heard during a debate:

    1) "Which is more important, national security or human rights?"

    2) "Assume we cannot come up with comprehensive immigration reform, should we give illegal immigrants drivers liscences?"

    And it was UNBELIEVABLE that he gave clinton a pass on her about-face. She comes off looking good because she decided to abandon what she truly believes in order to fall in line with polling. Absolutely pathetic. Obama on the other hand gets slammed for giving an honest answer. What has the media come to? The next 8 years will be more of the same unless Dems come to their senses.

    November 16, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Lou, NY NY

    Have you heard the one about CNN? They're a media conglomerate that is trying to hype, overexpose, and entertain the nation about a presidential race, desperately searching for a catchphrase or soundbite that will either elevate or eliminate a candidate. That's a pretty bad joke though, isn't it?

    November 16, 2007 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  9. Kevin, Houston, TX

    Congress has an approval rating in the 20s which is even lower than Bush's. Explain to me then why most of the candidates we have to choose from for the next President of the U.S. comes from Congress. If this group of people is doing a lousy job now, what makes anyone think they'll do any better once they reach the White House?

    November 16, 2007 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Vee, San Diego, CA

    The biggest looser coming out of this debate is CNN thanks to Wolf Blitzer. I've watched every single presidential debate and this is BY FAR the worst.

    It's the most unprofessional & unorganized to date, THANKS of course to Wolf Blitzer. A moderator is supposed to be in charge in controlling the situation in the room (how ironic is that?) and Wolf did anything BUT. Allowing audiences to boo candidates while they're answering questions, him cutting the candidates off in the middle of their answers, not to mention he couldn't even conceal his biasness & let it splashed all over the TV screen, is just plain – what's the word? – EMBARRASSING!! It's supposed to be a PRESIDENTIAL debate, Jeopardy was a much better managed program.

    A presidential debate in itself with 30 seconds to 1.5 minute answers has already become A BIG JOKE! But Wolf Blitzer took it to a whole new level last night, he successfully turned a PRESIDENTIAL debate into A 7 RING CIRCUS!! Congratulation CNN!!

    I've been submitting this several times what a surprised that it's not showing up. What's a matter CNN? Can only give criticism but can't handle getting one?

    November 16, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  11. Grace, Overland Park Kansas

    never have i been more convinced that CNN is the aptly dubbed "Clinton News Network". the debate last night was atrocious. the fact that the crowd was so biased against edwards and obama was quite suspicious – and when have debate audiences ever booed candidates? it had as much substance as the jerry springer show – in fact i half expected them to start chanting "clinton, clinton". and the analysis by gergen and the old clinton dude with the glasses was so biased (i think his name was carvill?) after watching the debate i felt that obama in particular made some excellent points, but all the analysts could talk about was the comment hillary made about the gender card. i especially found it ironic that right after she mentions she's not playing the gender card, she goes on to talk about women's issues and the "impediments" we face, which is a pretty darn good way to play the gender card. i feel sorry for obama and edwards, they really don't have a chance on cnn. and harry from iowa's comments were absolutely right on the money especially regarding clinton's shot at health care.

    November 16, 2007 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Mike, Birmingham AL

    I find it hilarious that people who refer to CNN as the "Clinton News Network" – a phrase coined by Sean Hannity – probably rely on Sean and Rush to get their "Fair and Balanced" news. You don't want fairness in your news, you just want the media to bash Democrats and liberals like your beloved state run...errr I mean Fox News Network. In case you didn't notice, Wolf was asking tough questions about the war, border security, and education – to name just a few. And he wasn't letting them dodge the questions – unlike Republican debates where the answers to every question that gets asked is about who loves Jesus and hates brown people the most.

    As I type this, I do smile a little bit knowing that at least CNN doesn't screen comments that are critical of their reporting, whereas the "Fair and Balanced" network does.

    November 16, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Joe Black

    Although I'm a Democrat, John McCain had the very best line, and Governor Romney was second.

    November 16, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Allison, NH

    I couldn't agree more – Wolf Blitzer was AWEFUL!! Not only does the guy have no expression whatsoever, but his questions were not thought out at all. Let's see – yes or no to dumping nuclear waste in your home state – how in the heck is someone supposed to answer that with a yes or no? Stupid!!

    Secondly, was this really supposed to be a debate with undecided voters? PLEASE....these people were not undecided – you could sense that 1/2 of the crowd were backing Hillary from the get-go (ewwww). Maybe she planted a few supporters – like the one who had the last question for Queen Hillary "do you prefer pearls or diamonds". What a rediculous question!! For someone UNDECIDED, could you come up with something more important to ask?

    Yet again – another debate focused on Hillary. Not that I'm planning to support Kucinich, but when does he get the chance to speak...or Dodd or anyone else? I'd love to hear more on what the others have to say, but they never get the chance!

    November 16, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Alison, Charlottesville, Virginia

    Harry from Iowa- you are my hero. I couldn't have said it any better.

    And I agree that we need to get rid of Tim Russert and Wolf Blitzer, who both have their own agendas. We need Keith Olbermann to moderate!

    November 16, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  16. Jack, Fort Myers, FL

    Lighten up!!! The conspiracy theory that somehow the liberal networks have picked Hillary as the next President is nuts. In fact, I've visited other blogs–trying to get BOTH sides thoughts out on an issue is IMPOSSIBLE without being attacked by the bloggers and the (FOX, Rush, staff)–that is if they even allow your message to be posted!!! Read a few of these blogs–there are ways of assessing where the popularity lies–with a majority of inputs on blogs, poll's, college campuses, etc. The reason Hillary is getting lots of media attention–is she is getting a lot of air time–both positive and negative. Chill out–just because your favorite horse isn't even finishing–doesn't mean the team has lost the race!!! Remember–the key is to make certain we don't have a repeat of the past!

    November 16, 2007 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  17. Ken, West Palm Beach, FL

    Here's a question for Hillary Rodman Clinton.

    Ms. Clinton, has your husband, the Rhodes Scholar, learned the definition of the word "is" yet?

    November 16, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  18. Mike V, Cleveland, OH

    How about John Edwards saying "That's cute Dennis" in response to Kucinich's claims that Edwards should have known better than to pass trade legislation with China because he is a trial lawyer.

    November 16, 2007 01:41 pm at 1:41 pm |
  19. Larry, Vernon CT

    Mike Huckabee should be the next President. Very smart man and he almost more of a man the Hillary Clinton

    November 16, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. C. Pullen, Sacramento, CA

    It is the denigration of the debates to "zingers" that is why no one is watching nor cares about them. The soft ball questions, the primping and preaning of the candidates, and the pandering of the questioners is insufferable. But it sure does fill broadcast time, and that is what CNN, FOX and the rest seem to care about most.

    November 16, 2007 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  21. T. Tim, Lodi, WI

    Though I think Newt Gingrich is too radical, I have to agree with his recent critique of these election antics sooooooo far in advance of the actual election, and the entertainment factor of it all. These one-line zingers are intellectually cutesy, like bumper sticker thinking. What the US needs is a statesperson, a leader, someone who will work for America not just for his/her party. Partisanship has become a divisive factor in our culture and world. We need a "uniter"–but not of the Bush variety. Remember: 'A house divided against itself will fall.'

    November 16, 2007 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  22. David, Albuquerque NM

    One of my all time favorite debate moments was during the vice-presidential debate between Cheney and Edwards in 2004. A question about same-sex marriage was asked of Edwards and he went into a boiletplate spiel, taking great pains to make references (albeit, nice references) to Cheney's lesbian daughter and the Cheney family's support for her, etc.
    When it came time for Cheney to reply, instead of delving into the issue at all he simply said something along the lines of "I'd like to thank Mr. Edwards for his kind words about my family." Period. Made Edwards look like the blathering politician to Cheney's kindly grandfather. Sheer brilliance, in my opinion.

    November 16, 2007 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. Steve, Houston, TX

    Mike, people call it the Clinton News Network not to bash liberals, which you would know if you read, but to chastise them for all but declaring her President without allowing fair coverage to the other candidates.

    November 16, 2007 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  24. Sean, Detroit, MI

    Harry from Iowa: well said.

    I really hope that when actual votes are cast, as opposed to statistics derived from archaic land-line polling methods , the people of the state of Iowa will make a strong statement that they want some real change in the White House...not yet another political puppet (Hillary).

    November 16, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. RPF

    Wolf did a great job of trivializing the important issues facing us by forcing 'yes or no' questions to complex isues (looking for sound bites?) - and constantly interupting the candidates in order to do so. It was inane. The choice of solely Republicans and Hillary Clinton supporters for initial post-debate commentary was worthy of FoxNews. The on-air reatting/editing of audience questions was shameful. Otherwise, good job.

    November 16, 2007 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
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