Live Blog: CNN Southern Republican Debate
January 19th, 2012
09:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Live Blog: CNN Southern Republican Debate

(CNN) - The CNN Political Ticker is live blogging the CNN Southern Republican Debate in Charleston, South Carolina. Check here for live updates throughout the event and be sure to follow @PoliticalTicker, @CNNPolitics and use #CNNDebate.

10:10 p.m. ET - Santorum to Borger: Romney isn't consistent on important issues.

10:09 p.m. ET@cnnlive: CNN's @jimacostacnn gets a response from #NewtGingrich staff on the #CNNDebate during the #CNNPostgame. Live: on.cnn.com/cnndcl2

10:07 p.m. ET – Santorum to CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger: Gingrich was given leadership position in Congress, and conservatives tried to throw him out.

10:05 p.m. ET - @SamFeistCNN: @newtgingrich: I thought it was a great debate. I think @johnkingcnn did a great job. #CNNDebate

10:04 p.m. ET - Gingrich to Anderson Cooper: "I felt we owed it to the people of South Carolina" to release tax returns. "Doesn't [Romney] owe it to Republican voters?"


10:03 p.m. ET
- Newt Gingrich told CNN's Anderson Cooper he thought the debate went well. "I wanted to keep it on big themes," Gingrich said.

9:58 p.m. ET - John King closed the CNN Southern Republican Debate.

9:57 p.m. ET – Santorum said Republicans needed to elect a conservative that can beat Obama in the most important states.

9:56 p.m. ET - Romney said the stakes of this election had never been higher. Said America needed to return to being a "shining city on a hill."

9:53 p.m. ET – Gingrich said Republicans will need to win both the White House and the House and Senate.

9:51 p.m. ET – Paul said candidates needed to talk more about spending and debt. Said debt bubble was "great burden."

9:54 p.m. ET - Candidates are asked to make their case to South Carolina voters.

9:48 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: My gut tells me undecided SC voters move mostly 2Newt 2nite, but Santo had his best debate. It's still a Rom-Ging race though

Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @politicalticker

9:44 p.m. ET - Paul said as a doctor, he had strong views on when life begins. Said Republicans should be looking at funding of abortions.

9:44 p.m. ET @LisaDCNN: CROWD SCREAMS: For Ron Paul to get to talk about the abortion debate as John King about to move on. Someone near me: "let the doctor speak!"

9:43 p.m. ET - Audience booed when Paul wasn't asked about abortion. Paul was given a chance to answer.

9:41 p.m. ET - Romney defended record as pro-life governor. Said his record is solid. Gingrich said as speaker he passed bill ending partial birth abortions.

9:40 p.m. ET
- Santorum said Gingrich had pushed social issues to the back burner.

9:38 p.m. ET - Romney said health law did not pay for abortions. Said his integrity was being questioned.

9:37 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: Gotta love it Romney now calling mass h care Romneycare

9:37 p.m. ET - Gingrich questioned Romney's pro-life stance. Said the health care law Romney passed in Massachusetts paid for abortions.

9:35 p.m. ET - Question on abortion

9:35 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he would issue an executive order dropping lawsuits against states' immigration laws.

9:34 p.m. ET - Paul said we needed to look at the incentives for people to come to the United States illegally.

9:33 p.m. ET - @HowardKurtz: Surprised that Mitt, in hitting pathway for illegal immigrants, isn't reminding folks this is Newt's position. Wants to avoid counterattack?

9:32 p.m. ET - Romney said he had been consistent on immigration, and that he actually agreed with Santorum on the importance of enforcing immigration laws.

9:30 p.m. ET - @DLoesch: Someone give Santorum a picture book of Gingrich's immigration answer, because it flew over his head. Disingenuous.

9:29 p.m. ET - Santorum said Romney had changed his position on immigration. Said Gingrich's position on illegal immigration was the same as President Obama's. Said, "If you want to be an American, the first thing you should do is respect our laws and obey our laws."

9:27 p.m. ET - Romney said illegal immigration was not a tough issue. He said America should build a fence, and ensure employers verify workers' immigration status.

9:25 p.m. ET – Gingrich said he would establish English as the official language of the United States. Said he would modify visa system. Gingrich said he would make process of deportation faster and easier. Gingrich also lauded his "guest worker" plan.

9:24 p.m. ET - Question from the audience: How would you deal with illegal immigration?

9:23 p.m. ET - Paul said he would work on his delivery. Said he might speak a little slower. Said he would continue with his message.

9:21 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he would skip first 3 months of his campaign and begin with an internet-based operation.

Romney said he would "work to get 25 more votes in Iowa."

Santorum said he "wouldn't change a thing." Said being in the final four was an amazing achievement.

9:21 p.m. ET - Question: What is the one thing you would do differently in this campaign?

9:15 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: I get the sense Romney and Newt pandered on SOPA. Santorum gave the most thoughtful answer.

9:14 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: Thank you candidates for opposing #SOPA #cnndebate

9:13 p.m. ET - Paul said he was glad the bill has stalled in Congress. Said Republicans had frequently been on the wrong side of the issue. Santorum said property rights should be respected, but that the legislation had gone too far.

9:13 p.m. ET - Gingrich: "I favor freedom." Said large companies shouldn't dictate what Americans can do on the internet. Romney said the bill was far too intrusive, and would have a negative impact on the tech industry.

9:11 p.m. ET – Question on SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act). CNN's parent company Time Warner supports SOPA.

9:10 p.m. ET - @ShepherdCNN: Newt Gingrich 2010 tax returns: he paid $994,708 on an adjusted gross income of $3.14 million. #cnndebate

9:09 p.m. ET – Paul said we needed to look at the reasons companies are sending jobs overseas. Said Apple was a good company that still employs thousands of Americans.

9:07 p.m. ET - Santorum said under his plan, Apple would get large tax incentives if they brought jobs back to the United States.

9:06 p.m. ET - Question: Apple has thousands of workers in China. What would you do about that?

9:04 p.m. ET - Romney said he would "maybe" release a few years of his income tax returns, as his father George Romney did when he ran for president. Audience booed. Said he wouldn't apologize for being successful.

9:02 p.m. ET –Gingrich said if Romney had something damaging in his tax returns, he should release them before the general election. Santorum said his tax forms were at his home, and he would release them when he was able to retrieve them.

8:59 p.m. ET – Question from audience: When will you release your tax returns? Gingrich said "an hour ago." Paul said he has no intention of releasing his tax returns, saying he has so conflicts of interest. Romney said he would release his in April when the most up-to-date forms are available.

8:58 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he went back to Ronald Reagan playbook when he was House speaker. Said Romney did very well under rules he put in place. Romney said when he was a businessman he pleaded for Washington to get out of the way.

8:57 p.m. ET - @PeterHambyCNN: Mitt's dad wasn't exactly Mr. Reaganite

8:56 p.m. ET - Romney said we didn't need someone who had worked in Washington. Points to Gingrich and Santorum as Washington insiders.

8:55 p.m. ET – Gingrich cited more achievements in the House: lowering taxes, gaining Republican majority. Said facts may be "inconvenient" for Santorum's campaign.

8:53 p.m. ET - Santorum said he knew Gingrich's leadership style from his time in the House. Mentioned ethics charges against Gingrich, and said that Gingrich had "an idea a minute."

8:52 p.m. ET – Gingrich defended his record. Listed off achievements made during his time as House Speaker. Cites job creation, balanced budgets. Said "We need leadership prepared to take on big projects."

8:49 p.m. ET – Santorum reacted to Gingrich's claim that he wasn't ready for something on the scale of the presidency. Santorum said his success in Iowa and New Hampshire were evidence of his staying power. Said Gingrich's claims "were not cogent thoughts." Said Gingrich had "worrisome moments when something's going to pop."

8:45 p.m. ET - @JimAcostaCNN: Romney to Santorum: "If you want to be governor of Massachusetts fine." #CNNDebate

8:42 p.m. ET - Paul said Obamacare could be repealed completely. He said he was more concerned about the larger problem of government expanding into individuals' health care.

8:41 p.m. ET - @SamFeistCNN: We will ask @speakergingrich about his tax returns next on the #CNNDebate.

8:40 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he led the opposition to HillaryCare when he was in the House.

8:39 p.m. ET - Newt Gingrich's campaign released 2010 tax documents during the CNN debate, reporting $3,142,066 adjusted gross income and paying approximately 31 percent of that amount in federal taxes, or $994,708. Mitt Romney, much of whose income is understood to be from investments and taxed at a lower rate, said on Tuesday his effective tax rate is "closer to the 15 percent rate than anything," and suggested he would release his documents in April.

8:38 p.m. ET – Romney defended the Massachusetts health care law, said people in the state were better off.

8:38 p.m. ET@jimacostacnn: Santorum on Romney and Gingrich supporting an indiv mandate: These are two folks who don’t present the clear contrast that I do.

8:36 p.m. ET - Santorum said Gingrich was for an individual health care mandate. Said Romney and Gingrich were "playing footsies with the left."

8:35 p.m. ET – Santorum used the Obamacare question to go after Romney for his role in the Massachusetts health care law. Said the law was a model for Obamacare.

8:34 p.m. ET - Gingrich said he thought it would be possible to completely repeal Obamacare. Said he didn't trust Congressional staffs to pick through bill to repeal separate parts.

8:33 p.m. ET - Romney: we have to go after complete repeal. Said he would replace with new bill that offers health care through a market.

8:30 p.m. ET - Question from the audience: Do any of the candidates believe Obamacare can be repealed in its entirety?

8:28 p.m. ET – Romney said veterans benefits should be handled at the state level.

8:27 p.m. ET - Santorum said Obama had cut benefits for veterans, said veterans should be given preference for jobs by employers.

8:25 p.m. ET - Paul said veterans more medical help when they return from war.

8:24 p.m. ET – Question: Should the federal government take steps to lower unemployment among veterans?

8:21 p.m. ET - Santorum said we need to talk about how to get people back to work in the manufacturing sector. Said we need to give manufacturers a leg up.

8:20 p.m. ET - Romney responded to Bain criticism, said "capitalism works." Listed companies he said were successful when taken over by Bain Capital.

8:19 p.m. ET - Romney: President Obama is the biggest impediment to job creation.

8:17 p.m. ET - Q to Gingrich: What was wrong with Romney's tenure at Bain Capital? Gingrich: Underlying model of Bail Capital needs to be explained.

8:17 p.m. ET@david_gergen: Let's be very clear on one point: John King is one of the fairest journalists in the country. #CNNDebate


8:16 p.m. ET
- Gingrich said we need to repeal Dodd-Frank bill. Said need to overhaul the Corps of Engineers.

8:15 p.m. ET - Paul said government needed to get out of the way. Said needed to get rid of some regulations and reduce the income tax.

8:14 p.m. ET - Question from voter: list three more programs to put people back to work.

8:13 p.m. ET - Romney: Let's get on to the real issues.

8:12 p.m. ET - King asks other candidates if personal items from the past are legitimate issues in presidential campaigns.

8:12 p.m. ET@lisadcnn: GINGRICH has them on their feet: says "I am tired of the elite media protecting Barack Obama." People near me roaring, enthralled.

8:11 p.m. ET@streitfeldCNN: And the overwhelming sign of frantic typing fills the media filing center...

8:11 p.m. ET - Gingrich: The story is false.

8:10 p.m. ET - Gingrich says he is "appalled" the first question in the debate was about his ex-wife's interview.

8:09 p.m. ET - Question to Gingrich on interview ex-wife gave to ABC News.

8:07 p.m. ET@AriFleischer: Where's Steven Colbert? I hope he didn't drop out too.

8:07 p.m. ET - Candidates introduced themselves to the audience.

8:06 p.m. ET - John King explained the rules of the debate.

8:04 p.m. ET - Military cadets from the Citadel sang the National Anthem.

8:03 p.m. ET - The candidates are introduced onto the debate stage.

8:00 p.m. ET - @DanaBashCNN: @donnabrazile is sitting with her popcorn getting ready for the big #cnndebate

8:00 p.m. ET - CNN Chief National Correspondent John King opened the CNN Southern Republican Debate.

7:59 p.m. ET - @PaulBegala: #cnndebate about to begin. Any thoughts on what the crowd will boo? Other crowds booed gay soldier, Golden Rule and yelled 'Let him die!"

7:57 p.m. ET - @SamFeistCNN: Moments away from the #CNNdebate in Charleston. http://twitpic.com/89b8a5

7:55 p.m. ET@donnabrazile: Newt hurricane with cane sugar. Santorum Sangria and Paul's Punch loaded with home grown oranges from Florida. Sure miss Perry's bourbon.

7:52 p.m. ET@donnabrazile:What's on your evening menu?#CNNDebate here in Charleston, SC. Lively audience. Rep Tim Scott firing up the base with loads of red meat.

7:51 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Larry King moderated the 2000 CNN debate in 2000. Tonight's moderator is John King. Must be a @CNN thing.

7:51 p.m. ET - @TonyFratto: Wondering how @JohnKingCNN will ask the Eyes Wide Shut question tonight. #CNNelections

7:49 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: Last time I was in SC for a debate was Bush-McCain 2000. (how quaint – only two candidates). Larry King was moderator.

7:48 p.m. ET - @David_Gergen: Talk among pros is if Romney can win debate, he can stop Newt momentum, take SC, put near lock on race.

7:46 p.m. ET @NewtGingrich: Almost debate time. You can follow live updates during the debate from Newt 2012 at http://www.newt.org/debate-central #withnewt

7:45 p.m. ET - @David_Gergen: Excitement building here at Charleston debate. Crucial nite for Romney & Gingrich. John King moderates, join us #CNNDebate.

7:44 p.m. ET - @JohnKingUSA: "Debate tips from a veteran"

7:43 p.m. ET - @EWErickson: I'm in the CNN staff room getting ready for the debate. Big night & the ability to have a more substantive discussion with only 4 on stage.

7:37 p.m. ET - Former candidate Herman Cain to CNN's Erin Burnett: "Voters are sick of digging up facts on someone's past. It's irrelevant!"

7:35 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: NOW: Everyone seated at debate in Charleston, must say CNN gave us radio folks a great spot just in back of audience.

7:31 p.m. ET - @JohnKingUSA: "Why Gingrich's ex is talking to the media:

7:29 p.m. ET - @ShanTravisCNN: just great: my fingers, toes are nearly frostbit in Iowa. my hotel member program emails: "Shannon – use points to Escape to Hawaii!"

7:26 p.m. ET - Sen. Graham: "The wind's at Newt's back."

7:23 p.m. ET - South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham on CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront": "I honest-to-God don't know who I'm going to vote for."

7:16 p.m. ET - Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich arrived at the debate hall.

7:09 p.m. ET - @LisaDCNN: PERRY presence at debate: Empty sad-looking seats.

7:08 p.m. ET - Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum arrived at the debate hall.

7:04 p.m. ET - @MittRomney: Tune in at 8:00 P.M. EST for the #CNNDebate (@ Southern Republican Leadership Conference-CNN Debate w/ 7 others)

7:04 p.m. ET - Texas Rep. Ron Paul arrived at the debate hall.

7:00 p.m. ET - @JohnKingCNN goes behind the scenes of tonight's debate.

6:53 p.m. ET - @AriFleischer: If you were a Perry supporter, who are you going for now?

6:44 p.m. ET - @RickSantorum: Please tune in tonight at 8pm ET for the CNN Republican Presidential Debate in Charleston, SC

soundoff (1,288 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Considering the corruption in the government, would you support annual ethics training and certification just as we do in our jobs?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  2. lucas turner

    It never matters who the president is. In some shape or form they have make false promises

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  3. Tina Brown

    The misstatement of Romney makes me ill. They have been making loads of profit but do not plow it back into their companies or the economy. They hide it in off shore accounts and Swiss accounts. Make him tell the truth. He also said 4 years ago he created jobs when he ran for Governor. He did not run for Governor 4 yrs ago

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  4. Bob Frank

    Gingrich's reaction to CNN was perfect and speaks well for how he will respond under diress. CNN was totally wrong to even bring this up in the debate. How many presidents and other people we hold up as our leaders have had marital problems. Perhaps we should ask President Kennedy, Martin Luther King, President Clinton and the others what they think of what Gingrich has done.

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. Nada Broderick

    I want a president who exemplifies what I value in life. Speaker Gingrich is not that. I know God loves him. He should not be The President of the United States of America. We need to say with our vote that we value traditional family and that women are not disposable. Thank you John King for bringing up the issue. I am amazed at the Speaker's public lack of humility. He blamed John King. I could not believe my ears when I heard the Speakers answer. I'm certain that God loves Mr. Gingrich. However, Mr. Gingrich should not be The President of the United States.

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. Jim Tarter

    What will you do to force banks to maintain properties that are eyes sores in communities and don't respond to full price offers from buyers for months. This hurts the value of all homes and kills the housing industry. These are the same banks that Washington bail out and support with a low discount rate.

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  7. Andre Dyson

    All Candidates: Do You Think Unions Should Exist Today? If so, should they fall up under a government agency as one entity?

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  8. Jay

    Question for Mitt Romney: The Protestant Churches in the US consider the Latter Day Saints (Mormans) a cult. The Book of Mormon is a false gospel preaching a different way to salvation. Jesus warned us of false teachings and false prophets like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, etc. When the USA faces trials and tribulations in the future and you get down on your knees in the White House and pray to your god, why should real Christians feel comfortable knowing that you pray and worship a different god and believe in a recognized cult? Follow-up question: Isn't it true that Mormons believe in various levels of heaven and that having more children leads you to greater heights in heaven? Isn't these cult extremes the very reason why no Christian should vote for a Mormon presidential candidate?

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  9. Rev. Marie

    For all candidates: In your support of Defense of Marriage Act you consider same sex marriage a sin, or against your view of God. What would you say to the numerous faiths and Christian denominations that perform same sex marriage and bless unions: United Church of Christ, Unitarians, Jewish, Quakers,and various American Baptist, Disciples of Christ, Episcopal, Evangelical Lutheran, Presbyterians,

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  10. R

    Why is Romney dodging so many questions when it comes to Mormonism??

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  11. Anita Tierney, Florida

    We have given tax breaks to the top 1% and large corporations for many years. As I understand the Republican philosophy, this is supposed to create jobs. In light of the high unemployment rate we have, do you think this philosophy is valid?

    And if we cut taxes as the candidates propose, who will build our highways and repair our bridges? Who will come to the aid of people who experience disastrous events such as Hurricane Katrina? Do you think private corporations will do these things? If so, why?

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  12. David Jones

    This liberal Democrat, who believes in the vital importance of a robust and fair national debate, agrees with Newt Gingrich that the conduct of the corporate owned entertainment-news media in our presidential electoral process is reprehensible and destructive, illustrated perfectly by the completely inappropriate and unhelpful sensational question that opened the CNN-sponsored debate tonight by John King. Shame. Romney was right: let's please talk about the issues that are important to this country.

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  13. Mark Goldstein

    Q. I would like to ask each of the 4 Republican Candidates this question: I know it is hindsight now, but If you had been the president of the United States when Mr. Obama was elected, what would you have done differently with the crisis he inherited?

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  14. INDEPENDENT VOTER

    Perhaps if Mitt didn't send American jobs overseas and put people out of work, there wouldn't be a need for medicaid and food stamps. How can you live on 20 hours a week or less at 7.00 an hour!

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  15. Andrew Varnes

    Dear Victoria: Who cares about his affairs? No one cared about Bill Clinton's – or at least the liberal media like CNN didn't

    January 19, 2012 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  16. Anti Racism

    Please DON'T entertain the questions from Mr. Kubick. His questions is clearly race-baiting and full of ignorance. The continuation of racism charged whenever ANYONE not black criticizes President Obama is leading to a deeper division in the country than before Dr. King brilliantly led the world to a equal rights for ALL people of ALL races or genders.

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  17. Tom Blaney

    An open question to all the candidates:

    What would your position be on a proposal to eliminate all tax free organizations (churches, non-profits, religious organizations and people claiming to be ministers etc). If we required all organizations to pay taxes we would have a dramatic increase in tax income.

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  18. Vito V

    To Newt, what is your stand on the 2nd Amendment

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  19. NameMike Badaracco

    Question to all:

    I only get one vote, Tell me WHY I should vote for you!

    Charleston, South Carolina

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  20. Bella

    Question for All– How should the federal government support higher education for individual students in the years ahead?

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  21. Alfred Knaus

    How do you expect me to vote for you to become the Republican nominee if there seems to be a disconnect to the American people in terms of your financial situation. You do not come across as having the moral standing to guide this country. Your offshore holdings do not sit well with the American populous.

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  22. DERRICK REESE

    Question for all candidates. Will you restore the dollar to being backed by gold and silver?

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  23. vicky

    Amazing on how the GOP can dish it out but cannot take. During the last election, I was appalled at the out of hand negative ads used by the Tea Party and even appalled that negative ads contributed to the Tea Party taking over Congress. It proved that negativity wins. Newt showed his true colors – vicious
    Good job John – give them a piece of their own medicine.

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  24. Fred McElwee

    I am a 13 year old boy from the Philadelphia suburbs. I am a big fan of Ron Paul, and support his idea to get the income tax as close to 0% as possible. Congressman Paul, if it were up to you, how would the non-discretionary spending and defense be funded? Raise tariffs? Excise taxes? National sales tax? VAT?

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  25. Spartan

    Why does'nt Mitt Romney just answer the question? He just skipped around it.

    January 19, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
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