November 16th, 2007
12:15 PM ET
7 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

    Post by Eric is 100% on the mark...

    How is that CNN has two commentators on last night following the debate that worked for the Clinton Administration and proclaimed their obviously biased viewopoints about Hillary allegedly winning?

    Yes and when Obama gives a THOUGHTFUL, INTELLIGENT answer to a question he is categorized as "weak" or "indecisive"?

    I don't get it? The political commentators assume people want one- word answers that skirt the question? It's absurb. Obama stole the show and gives people what they want. Real answers.

    November 16, 2007 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  2. Rob, Detroit, MI

    Going along with how lousy Wolf Blitzer was; how about all the attempts to reduce complicated issues to yes or no answers and smugly mocking them all for trying to elaborate. Especially the drivers licenses for illegal immigrants. So we tell them they need to have licenses to drive? Guess what, they're also supposed to have green cards. Props to the candidates who refused to let the question go by with a yes or no.

    November 16, 2007 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  3. Eric, Newtown, PA

    Hey, why isn't there coverage here about how CNN "planted" that idiotic question about pearls and diamonds with a college student who wanted to ask about Yucca Mountain? This news organization has lost its way. This debate was the worst yet. Wolf Blitzer was a disaster. Go back to substance. Enough with the sensationalism already.

    November 16, 2007 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  4. therealist

    Biden: "Who among us knows what they're doing?"

    Said during a prime time CNN debate among only democrats. Priceless!!

    November 16, 2007 02:39 pm at 2:39 pm |
  5. Thomas, St. Petersburg, FL

    Dennis Kucinich should be charged with TREASON for appearing on Syrian television denouncing his nation and our brave troops. This guy is an absolute CREEP.

    Rudy Guliani's leadership during those dark, dreadful days of 09/11/2001 was quite memorable and comforting to all Americans. As a presidential candidate, why shouldn't he reference such experience during debates?

    Sounds like Biden is jealous...

    November 16, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  6. David, Oregon City, Oregon

    Romney's running scared–he doesn't want to lose New Hampshire, Michigan, or South Carolina like he's losing Iowa. He knows that if the debates proceed, Mike Huckabee stands only to gain & he stands only to lose.

    Romney's ceding Iowa to protect himself elsewhere.

    The Iowa need to hold & televise the debate as scheduled whether or not Romney attends.

    November 16, 2007 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  7. wale azeez boca raton florida

    hey some humour in politics not bad at all...but in last night's debate wolf blitzer was a terrible moderator.....while most questions asked of the politicians do not have a yes or no answer there is a clear difference between further explaining your yes or no (Obama tactic) as opposed to one leg on each side of the fence (clinton tactic)....so for cnn's political team....sorry your analysis of the debate is wayyyyyyyyyyyy....off beat

    November 16, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. Emily, Washington DC

    I'm confused. Why do people think this list is biased? These is zinger from McCain aganist Hillary (a good one at that). Guiliani has 1, Thompson has 1, Edwards has 1, Kucinich has 1, and Hillary has 1. Everyone wonders why CNN covers Hillary so much, its because any post about Hillary solicits hundreds of comments. They are a smart organization with great business skills. We, the consumers of this news, are showing where are demand is by always reading things on Hillary and then getting into huge debates about her. Come on people, its your basic economics. Demand drives supply so blame yourselves for the excessive coverage on her

    November 16, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  9. John New York, NY

    Hillary Clinton defending lobbyists as representing "ordinary Americans," a line that did not go over very well with her audience.

    November 16, 2007 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. A. Brown Hayward, CA

    On illigal immigrants:,no one seems to adress the Visa Problem. Many Illegals come in on a visitors visa or education visa and simply just disappear. When is this country going to address this problem? I saw a program on CNN where a family from Mexico got visas for Disneyland 10 years ago and just stayed here Immigration does'nt know where they are. Give me a break.

    November 16, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. Todd, Newburgh NY

    In response to Eric, who said the following question was one of the "two stupidest questions" he's heard during a debate: "Which is more important, national security or human rights?"

    I have to totally disagree. This question is of the upmost importance in a time when people are willing to give up personal freedoms for security. The bill of rights of this country gaurantees freedoms, not security. A nation, for example, can be very secure, yet have no human rights. So you may not be killed by a terrorist in such a nation, but you could be imprisoned by the government and subseqeuently tortured and/or executed without a trial.

    Human rights are far more important than security. As soon as we lose our freedom, security matters not, for we have already lost what this country stands for. Only a coward would trade freedoms for security. After all, the quote is "give me liberty, or give me death." Not, "give me liberty, or give me a very secure life in a totalitarian state."

    November 16, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Mitch, Boston, MA

    This CNN debate was the most ridiculous waste of airtime I've ever seen.

    A top Hillary aide warned Wolf Blitzer not to be too hard on her, a CNN plant revoked an intelligent and pointed question towards Clinton in favor of 'diamonds or pearls?' and Campbell Brown's obvious bias towards her was horrible.

    This did not change the race in the slightest, but just made CNN less reliable.

    November 16, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  13. Raymond, El Paso TX

    I laughed my head off every time the candidates shut Wolf up and he'd just stand there looking like a little boy with a white beard who'd just been scolded by his mother.

    November 16, 2007 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  14. Charlie, Mayfield NY

    Best Zinger was by Wolf Blitzer when he asked Hillary for straight answer. Hillary, do you think we should raise the maximum taxable amount on Social Security. Anyone notice she never answered the question? Matter of fact, her answer said she doesn't even have a plan to fix the problem. Matter of fact, look for specifics on her health care stuff, there are none. She is nothing but filler and fluff – with no substance.

    November 16, 2007 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  15. aj huntington ny

    Mayor Guiliani showed tenacity and leadership in New York City and this was most apparent during the city's dark days on 9-11-01 and months after. This is part of his legacy that he didn't do a Ray Nagin and stand before 1000 school buses simpering to the people in Washington to solve his shortcomings and lack of Leadership. Rudy was and is America's Mayor.

    November 16, 2007 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  16. AJ, IL

    I know it is still early in the Presidential selection process, but discussing ZINGERS! We've got some important and scary issues coming up in the next 1 to 10 years. Things such as a likely recession, our Foreign policy in relation to Iran, Pakistan, Israel, Palestine and North Korea, baby boomers drawing a defunct Social security system, illegal immigration, energy independence, global climate change, and America's poor education relative to other countries in a global marketplace.

    I want to hear detailed plans from the candidates on what they would do to address these important national issues. I tired of political points being achieved from zingers and sound bites. Common America!

    November 16, 2007 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  17. zaggy

    don't know why people think Hillary is experienced.

    We know at least one job that Bill thinks an intern can do better than Hillary.

    Posted By Honestly, TX : November 16, 2007 12:21 pm
    loooooooool! no comment!

    November 16, 2007 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  18. Michael, Houston, Tx

    The guy from Iowa – who is so mad because he thinks a candidate he clearly does not like has already been chosen.

    Get real, it ain't over till it's over, rule number 1 in elections. LBJ found it out the hard way once, and never another one. Hillary is favored because she is the best candidate, and of you do not like it tough bananas, get over it. I don't think CNN is showing any favoritism, I think this is more your perception and you probably strengthen that every time you see an article about one of the other candidates, you probably ask right away – "Now why don't they do the same piece on Hillary?" – the answer is probably because she did not do what that other candidate did to gain the media's attention.

    Remember the media is in the business of keeping you on it's channel, they are not in the business of giving free or equal time to every candidate in every instance.

    November 16, 2007 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  19. Christine, Atlanta, GA

    I am still up in the air about who to vote for as are many Americans and I expected better of CNN after the debate. Instead of discussing all of the candidates it focused the first half an hour on Hillary and Obama. I do not except that they are the automatic front runners but that is what the mainstream media is pushing. I think the other candidates deserve equal time by the press. I listened to Joe Biden for the first time last night and was very impressed. I also like Bill Richardson but their names are hardly mentioned. Shame on the media for forcing their "front runner" options on the public. Let us decide.

    November 16, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  20. Steve, Lyons, CO

    "Mike Huckabee: "We've had a Congress that spends money like John Edwards at a beauty shop...." or, Tom Tancredo.

    November 16, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  21. Trang, Fremont, CA

    I think Biden has the best performance in the most recent debate. I definitely wouldn't mind having him play some important role – ie. President, VP, Secretary of State, etc. Unfortunately, he said he is not interested in being VP if Hillary is the President. Who can blame him with Bill around?

    Hillary has more energy today. But then that might have something to do with the crowd – practically pro-Hillary. Obama and Edwards are being booed when they tried to elaborate their answers. Unfortunately, Wolf cut it short.

    Wolf Blitzer didn't give them time to explain. It's important to hear the rationale behind their answers, because it helps us see how they view the world and how that leads to their decision. How informative is a 'Yes' or 'No' answer? 'Yes' because ...., 'No' because ... It would help us see their point of view.

    November 17, 2007 03:34 am at 3:34 am |
  22. Harason, Upland, CA

    Wolf Blitzer: "Congressman Kucinich, you were the only one who voted against the Patriot Act. Why?"
    Congressman Kucinich: "Because I read it."

    I wish Kucinich had a real chance. I'd totally vote for him.

    November 17, 2007 03:48 am at 3:48 am |
  23. Max, Boston, MA

    Political "zingers" are only effective when they're unscripted. Huckabee and Romney's quotes are just planned jokes that fell flat. When it comes to politicians trying to be comedians, they should just stick to their day jobs.

    Then again, not many of them are too great at that, either.

    November 17, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  24. Tom Dedham, Mass

    "Mike Huckabee: "We've had a Congress that spends money like John Edwards at a beauty shop…." or, Tom Tancredo.

    Posted By Steve, Lyons, CO : November 16, 2007 11:24 pm

    Hey Steve Lyings, Do you understand the difference between the two?

    One was for ego only and the other was for CHARITY.

    Did I write that slow enough for you?

    November 17, 2007 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  25. mark wilkes barre pa

    What tom from NM was trying to say but used too big of words is,,, the democrats put on heck of a show at the debate, it was great to see them mix it up with pro wrestling soap opra like coriographed precision. Hillary was too into herself and preoccupied with non facts and trying to convince us that she has any experience behind her to even notice she was BEING atacked,, she was well prepared to make promises she cant ever keep. It will take alot more than her apponents have to convince her we are all on to her

    November 17, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
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