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. Deepsea5150

    I'd like to know where these candidates stand on Illegal Immigration...

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  2. Kat San Diego

    Given the fact that Mitt Romney is an incredibly wealthy man, and that he is reluctant to release his tax returns, how is he going to assure me that he's not running for president for a secret agenda of keeping the rich richer and making the poor pooer?

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. Ray riley

    Please ask Speaker Gingrich to explain the hypocrisy of his assaulting the moral failures of President Clinton and calling for his impeachment but now, as a candidate for the presidency, whines with feigned injury when questioned about his own morality!

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  4. Phillip

    Have any of these men, spent any time recently in a V.A. hospital lately, if so how would these hawks fix those problems as opposed to more private contract military contracts to private companies.

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  5. douglas glenn

    Just a brief comment. I hope the GOP hopefuls are buying television time slots for aug, sept, and oct of this year. Time slots will go very fast if Obama decides to purchase ALL AVAILABLE SLOTS.

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  6. Mark

    QUESTION FOR CANDIDATES:

    Except for one of the candidates, Mr. Paul, there has been little or no public comment from any of the other candidates about the allegedly over reaching aspects of the National Defense Authorization Act. Do you object or support this legislation?

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  7. chris

    John King–good for you for beginning so boldly. You were absolutely right to question the speaker's conduct.

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  8. TR808

    Santorum wants to give them preference but he also wants to attack Iran, and create more "damaged" veterans. How does he resolve these two opposing perspectives?

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  9. Brian

    To Ron Paul: Can you explain your plan to reduce the deficit by 1 trillion? And what do you mean by zero taxes? How can that work? Why do you feel a platform of peace, abolishing the fed, and giving us back the constitution seems to be not popular with the other candidates?

    To all the candidates: Why is war so popular and peace not with the republican party? Running on a platform of preemptive strikes, war, sanctions, usually ending with war or at least plane sorties as the only response to every single threat to the U.S. win votes over from independents and disenchanted democrats like myself? Would you go to war with IRAN and if so how would you justify that?

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  10. Bella

    Gingrich doesn't always seem to be in control of his emotions - not a good trait in a president. Has anyone looked into his past health records? Over the years, he's seemed to be almost manic at times.

    January 19, 2012 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  11. Jerry Owings

    Q: mitt romney and newt gingrich; I too believe in capitalism and is there a way within the capitalist system to close the gap between the outrageous wages of CEOs and the people who actually do the work? We have become working poor.

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  12. DBisbee

    I applaud John King for getting the issue out up front so the debate could move on to other issues facing the American people. It eliminated the undercurrent and will have prevented attacks by other candidates during the debate. Thank you John King!

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. Muhammed Bojang

    What fondamental change will it take, for you to support your opponent on stage,
    if they are to be the nominee. give specific details your oponent is lacking.

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. Leone

    A question to all the potential Nominees.
    In 2008 it was stated that because of the lack of regulations of banks,insurance companies etc, it caused America to enter a recession. Why is it that you still support the lack of regulation even though this lack of regulation caused you to enter an economic mess.

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Michael

    I am a gay american in a committed relationship. You talk about government being less intrusive in our lives and freedom and equality, yet I am clearly not equal in your eyes. In order to subscribe to your morality, I have to choose between who I love and how the Evangelicals interpret the bible. Isn't your legislation of marriage as a union between man and woman, and not allowing me the right to love and marry whom I wish an example of the government intruding in my private life? And isn't this a land of religious freedom, both mine and yours?

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  16. Ronald Brazel

    With we the planed cuts in personnel in the Military we will below 8 divisions.
    Do you approve of the low numbers of divisions that will be our Army?

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  17. frank

    Some think we live now in a Global Economy, What do you believe are the Global Economy issues that impact the U.S> Now?

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  18. Pat Waters

    Just get on with the debate. Talk about the economy and jobs instead of knockin each other down. Gingrich still keeps jabbing at romney about the Bain thing. Lets talk about how we are going to run this country so much better then Obama has, and also how were going to handle this Iran mess although Israel could very well take care of it themselves and I wouldnt blame them if they did. Go after this President not each other

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  19. Dean

    I find it interesting that Newt finds it appalling when the question is about his past. Then two minutes later he goes into Mitts pass( and Mitt defended him). Go figure he will not be a good candidate if he can not handle these three.....

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  20. Derrick

    Do you feel States will abuse the powers of the Constitution to serve its own personal agendas? Hence...Jim Crow

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  21. David Peltier

    For each candidate: Would you as president work with the states to improve the economy, and if so how?

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  22. Anne

    Congressman Paul and Santorum don't realize that after WWII we had factories, all the factories in Lawrence, Lowell, Massachusetts, Manchester, NH, etc. are shut down. Jobs left there are no factory jobs any more.

    January 19, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Excellent Newth Response to Personal Attack First Question

    January 19, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  24. Red

    Rick Santorum
    Voted 8 times to raise the debt ceiling, increasing the debt by $4.7 trillion dollars. He sponsored a $50 million dollar bill to build an indoor rain forest. Probably the most unjust is Santorum’s involment with Jack Abramoff in protecting the Tan family and their staggering array of human rights abuses on the Commwealth of Morthern Marianas Islands. The Tan family ran sweatshops on the islands and Santorum provided legislative cover for the truly rancid sweatshops, their human rights violations and almost fathomless moral quagmire of forced prostitution and abortions.

    January 19, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  25. tiko

    Will someone please ask: How can the republicans condone jobs being outsourced overseas...absolutely obviously taking the jobs away from the Americans here at home? That's the big corporations taking our jobs away!!!

    January 19, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
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