November 29th, 2007
07:00 AM ET
11 years ago

John Roberts: Tempers flared at CNN/YouTube debate

Tempers flared at last night's debate.

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (CNN) - Perhaps it was the cloudburst that hit St. Petersburg just before the debate, but there was an awful lot of mud around the Mahaffey Theater. And it only took one question for Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney to pick up a handful and start flinging it about.

The question was on immigration and whether – as President – Giuliani would support so-called “sanctuary cities”. Within moments, Giuliani and Romney were at each other – the former mayor accusing the former governor of employing illegal immigrants to landscape his mansion – Romney muttering something about it being unrealistic to ask everyone with a “funny accent” working at your home for their immigration papers.

“Funny accent”?

Not exactly the way to win the Hispanic vote in America.It’s a sign of how close the early primary race has become. Romney is aggressively trying to shut Giuliani out of a win in the first few contests, hoping that the traditional “winner’s bounce” will change voters’ minds in the big super-Tuesday states and propel him to victory.

With little more than a month left before the Iowa caucuses, the Republican candidates are in a full-on rush to illuminate what separates them from their challengers. As uncertain as the race was months ago, it is even moreso now. The debate is about leadership and record. Who has the qualities and the qualifications for the highest office in the land. And while they’re all trying to be different, they’re also attempting to be the same. Who is toughest on immigration, terrorism, inflated spending, taxes. Who best to bring the Republican party back to its core values. Time is running out, and so the rhetoric gets ever hotter.

This debate offered a spirited comparison of the issues, policies, positions and records of the candidates. But there was one moment that struck me as supremely odd. Why was John McCain trying to score points by attacking Ron Paul? Paul is an attention-getter to be sure. And for many people – a lot of what he says makes an awful lot of sense. But if McCain hopes to become the nominee, he needs to tell voters how he differs from Giuliani, Romney and Thompson, not Ron Paul.

- American Morning Anchor John Roberts

Filed under: CNN/YouTube Debate
soundoff (45 Responses)
  1. jacob,baltimore,md

    Well chosen questions to suit what CNN think is right for us.

    November 29, 2007 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  2. Henry,litttlerock,ARkasa

    Just like CNN wanted!

    November 29, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  3. nancy,newton,iowa

    wow, how painful how much this guy has invested in the ads in Iowa and how much he was reduced in the debate. Thanx CNN!

    November 29, 2007 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  4. T. Tim, Lodi, WI

    "The "funny accent" remark was *sarcasm* used by Romney ... If this has to be explained to you, you'll never understand." Wrong. Wrong period. We DO NOT need or want a president who uses sarcasm about minority accents. We DO understand how it betrays his latent xeonphobia and elitism. We need politicians–no statetpeople–who respect ALL constituents, not just those who line their pockets. There's nothing funny about someone's accent. Does he think Kissinger's, the acme of Repub views, accent is funny? Enough of these smarmy, flip-flopping, elitist candidates.

    November 29, 2007 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  5. Brad, Stockton, CA

    Hmmm... I would love to see a simple "yes/no" debate; that could go a long way to eliminating the bull**** and letting Americans know where a candidate REALLY stands, i.e. is the person a real candidate or is he/she just another corporate candidate from either party? I have heard all the crap from democrats and republicans, and at this point, very few have actually answered any real questions of substance; they just fight like teenagers.

    November 29, 2007 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  6. Lee, yardley, pa

    Roberts and Giuliani are obviously still trying to cope with their "little boy" instincts of throwing things at each other. How childish, how embarrassing for the United States of America to have candidates like them.

    November 29, 2007 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. J Houston, TX

    The Democratic candidates wouldn't even think about doing a debate with FoxNews so good for the Republican candidates.

    Don't be decieved. The real election is here. The democrats opinions are so divisive already that the left doesn't even stand a chance. It's almost like they are campaigning in another country. No, the only place issues are even discussed that Americans support is right here.

    November 29, 2007 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  8. Ben, Baltimore

    Romney would be an amazing president. Anyone who is looking into the funny accent quote is taking it out of context and you know it. I find it funny that people criticize these guys for petty remarks and then try to insult Romney with something that they created in their own twisted heads.

    This guy founded one of the strongest companies in America and managed to become governer of a democrat stronghold state.

    Who cares if he hasnt been pro life his entire life and decided to switch positions. it would be one thing if he tried denying that he ever switched stances, but he openly admits that he was wrong and when it came down to making the decisions that affected his state, he had an eye opening experience and had a change of heart. That happens to everyone.

    Ive been looking for a candidate that has a great "common sense factor" and Romney is it. Fred Thompson isnt far behind as far as that goes, neither is guiliani for that matter, but neither of them have impressed me as much as Romney as he has shown me that he is a true leader.

    November 29, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  9. Steve Blaine Washington

    It's no coincidence he worships an angel named Moroni…

    Posted By Gideon, Chicago, IL : November 29, 2007 11:17 am

    Why is it that people who publish anti Mormon blogs do not take the time to find out what they are talking about.
    There were a lot of angels connected with the Restoration of the Church which Christ reestablished in 1830 using a young boy who was trained as
    a prophet the way prophets were trained in the Old Testement but Mormons do not worship them. Each Angel had a specific mission to the Mormon Church. However, I will give you scripture in the Bible which described Moroni's mission to the Mormons. Refer to Revelations 14 verse 6.

    November 29, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  10. pam

    Mitt Romney is an idiot

    November 29, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  11. Devin, San Antonio, TX

    To Gideon from Chicago,

    What would a political blog about Mitt Romney be without the ignorant, incorrect, and idiotic stab at Mormons? Thank you for your worthless and inaccurate insight on something you obviously know nothing about. You are obviously uneducated so while I cannot take anything constructive from the comments made by people like you, at least you offer some sad-but-true, yes-some-people-in-our-country-ARE-this-stupid kind of humor to the conversation. Thanks for the chuckle. I'm no matchmaker, but maybe Gravel is a good candidate for you.

    November 29, 2007 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  12. AJ, IL

    You know who Romney reminds of, George W. Bush running for president in 2000 with less wit. Both claimed business backgrounds as needed presidential experience, both were former governors, both profess that they have strong religious convictions, and both are wrong for America!

    November 29, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  13. Steve Mauss, Cypress CA

    So, let me see if I have this straight. You see a huge problem with a sarcastic "racially insensitive" remark, yet you see no problem with several extraordinarily insensitive and bigoted remarks aimed at Mormons? It is time for this country to ask themselves why it is OK to spew hatred and ignorance at Mormons when similar comments, if directed at Jews, African-Americans, Hispanics, or virtually any other group would be branded "hate speech."

    It says a lot about the character, not to mention the education level, of the bloggers that they would find this kind of hate acceptable. It also says a great deal about CNN's editors that they would allow it to even be posted. Honestly, would CNN allow such comments to be posted about Gays and Lesbians? I think not.

    November 29, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Tony, Greensboro, NC

    Romney, please smell the coffee. Your comment, "if you hear someone with a funny accent..." is insulting and in very poor taste. Extremely unprofessional.

    Not only does it generalize, but denotes that all people with an accent are illegal aliens. This country has a vast source of very good Americans with strong foreign accents; none of which are funny. Yes, some are Spanish, but we also have Italians, French, Russians, and more. As a matter of fact, this country was built from those accents, so please respect them.

    Romney is nothing but another

    November 29, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  15. Jacob, Saint Louis, Missouri

    When I read comments like the ones above me, it makes me sad to think that these people are going to cancel out the votes of smart people.

    Are people really trying to make an issue out of "funny accents?" I imagine they would be equally offended if he had said "hispanic last name" or "darker skin color" or "non-fluent english," as this would be insensitive or racial profiling or xeonphobia or elitism or whatever random term you want to pull out. The people in the audience certainly didn't seem too offended by its use. The boos only came when Giuliani pressed the issue for a 2nd or 3rd time after Romney explained fairly clearly (not "muttering," as Roberts so unbiasedly put it) that checking the legal status of employees of companies you contract with would be silly. Thompson even agreed with Romney's "muttered" explanation.

    N.B.: Romney's situation is NOT the same thing as an employer checking the status of a potential employee. McDonald's SHOULD check the legal status of everyone it decides to hire. Customers of McDonald's SHOULD NOT check the legal status of the people behind the counter before they place their order. Am I the only one who understands this? I don't know how to explain it any better.

    p.s. Although I did think Romney had a good day at the debate, I thought McCain did better and I'm still a McCain supporter.

    November 29, 2007 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. Tony, Greensboro, NC

    This entire debate expresses the comedy of wasted hours that are Republicans today. True colors laying down an alliance of ignornace and distant from what America really wants, or wants to hear.

    Supporting a warmonger Cain, please the guy will probably get a few votes, hopefully all electric.

    As for the R nominees, I expect it will be approximately 20 years before they find a place in the whitehouse again.

    November 29, 2007 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  17. Steve S., Seattle, WA

    Romney didn't mean that hispanics have a "funny" accent. He meant that anyone who has a "different" accent than the individual homeowner. This is why we don't love the media!

    November 29, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  18. DT, Wisconsin

    T. Tim: I didn't say it was right, but it was sarcasm used by Romney to imply that Guiliani was anti-Latino- to make it seem as though Rudy is the one who thinks that the accents are "funny". That's all I'm saying. And it was pretty obvious. Sorry you took it the wrong way.

    November 29, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  19. Afi K. James, Fort Lauderdale, Florida

    This is why I'm supporting ron paul and voting for him, the two parties are nothing more war mongers, all they care about is more soliders dying in this phony war on terror, I Supported afghanistan to find bin laden, but not Iraq, that country had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11

    and quckhead hunter is nothing but a joke.

    Yes we need to solve this illegal immigration crisis, but we also need to bring our soliders home now, not one more american will die in this ridiculous war for oil.

    and that's why ron paul gets my vote.

    December 1, 2007 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |

    rommney is one of the biggest offenders of dirty politics .why is it that he feels that it will help his campain to cut the others down . all its doing is making him look bad,. if he thinks the american people will vote for a man like that he is sadly mistaken.
    also why is it they spend so much time cutting each other down that he dosent tell me what he is campaining for. all i want to hear is what he willl TRY to do for the people. the only thing obomma is going to do is make his wife the frist black in the whitewhouse as the frist lady. he talks alot and has said very little that will help the people.

    January 4, 2008 06:37 am at 6:37 am |
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