Live Blog: CNN Southern Republican Debate
January 19th, 2012
09:30 PM ET
3 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. Terri

    How could Speaker Gingrich question & impeach President Clinton on his extra marital activities and his now states that his own activities should not be a matter of presidential consideration ?

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  2. Lisa

    Wouldn't it be better for businesses to stop making them have to pay health care costs? Seems like if we went to a single payer health care system it would take a lot of the burden off of business and it would allow people to start their own businesses instead of having to stay at a current job so they don't lose health insurance. Let's face it – there is no other advanced country in the world that would want our "greed driven" health care system.

    How are you going to help my friend who has a little too much (he owns a car) to get medicaid, but not enough to afford health insurance? He has a pace maker and can't even get insurance. He is trying to start a business but I am afraid if his pace maker has a problem and he has to go to the hospital he will lose everything.

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  3. Larry Brennan

    Of the four on the stage, three seem to be from Washington and helped get US here?

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  4. Matt

    In regards to social welfare programs. What would Jesus Do?

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  5. Katia Wojcik

    To All Candidates:
    Foreign Policy more specificially foreign aid and taxes:
    Why shouldn't we lower taxes, cut foreign aid and let people decide where to send their money via the charities we support that are on the ground actually doing the work. At least with our charities we can get reports to see how our money is being spent.

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  6. beverly stanley

    Why do politicians and media insist on calling social security and medicare entitlements??? it is deducted weekly from working americans pay checks? unlike food stamps and 99 week unemployment, and the first cut to the budget seems to be the entitlements social security and medicare?? Again bringing the hardships to the middle class working people.

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. James Hunter

    Question for all candidates: In recent years college tuition rates have skyrocketed, making post high school education less accessible for many young Americans. If you were elected president, what would you do to make a college education more affordable?

    January 19, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  8. juanita valdez

    Will "open marriage" Family-values Newt open up the ethics investigation and let us see all of the unethical behavior he did? Why is that information sealed?

    I want to know what he did. Why won't he let us see it?

    Let's see, a lobbyist for freddie mac who has wives and concubines, is kicked out of the House, resigns in disgrace as speaker, is fined $300,000...is petty, vindictive, pompous...

    NO NEWT

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  9. Ben Perry

    How will you work to control the problem of spending and our debt spiraling out of control? What would you do to combat the possible threat of hyperinflation and subsequent drastic devaluing of the dollar that the country is currently facing?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  10. Dan

    We the people are sick of a government that continually passes laws/regulation upon "we the people" while exempting themselves from a catastrophe like Obama Care! What will you do to transition our government back to what our forefathers had intended?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  11. Thedreamer

    Is it me or do these candidates sound clueless. Romney gonna repeal a healthcare that is similar to his, and he even said before that Obama did what he did with healthcare.FLIP FLOPPIN ROMNEY. Gingrich is just a angry old man he forget to get his daily cup of prune juice. Ron Paul is another angry old man who just cant get noticed enough. Santorum is clueless.

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  12. Brenda Anthony

    It Obamacare was patterned after Romneycare how can we miss the obvious fact that Gov. Romney would know most about the plan and therefore be the best person to debate Obama on the subject and repeal Obamacare?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  13. Christopher Bentley

    Whether you are Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, how can you ignore Ron Paul? He is anti-war unless it is absolutely provoked and he is the only one who has an unquestionable record conservative fiscal spending. Both parties should be elated to have such an individual running for president.

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  14. D.O. Stoner

    The beginning question about Gingrich's private life should be out of bounds and shows that CNN in particular, and possibly other large media corporations feel that they don't have to act in an honorable way or with a level of respect that most people in America expect in our society. An apology at the end of this debate is called for. An effort to improve the decorum is needed, rather than the stage set and opening question that appears more suited to shows like X-factor, American Idol, Bachellorette or other entertainment shows. Does John respect the Presidency of the United States? Or does this network intend to be part of the further degradation of honor and personal respect in our nation?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  15. Be/v McNair

    I don't care if Gingrich wanted an open marriage or not. The fact is that he stymied the democratic administration from passing many important bills by attacking Clinton while he himself was having an affair. He's a hypocrite in my eyes, nok matter how viciously he attacks the moderator. Was he ready for that question? You bet.

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  16. Victoria Christie

    question for all: what steps would take if Iran blocks /closes the Staits of Hormuz?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  17. Leon K., Pennsylvania

    To Sen. Santorum – When you 'describe' the positions of the other three onstage, why do you not extend them the courtesy of looking them in the eye?

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  18. Marge

    These jokers keep repeating let the states handle all issues related to people's needs. If states do not have money because of the economy and no jobs. These guys think the American people are stupid. Cities and states are
    decreasing medical assistance to families. Most of us paid into social security and medicare and these guys
    want us to believe they have better programs. Ask them for specifics, not general garbage.

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  19. Kellie

    Question for Newt Gingrich How do you thing we should trust to run our country when you record has shown you aren't loyal to anything but yourself. You couldn't even be faithful to one wife, let alone two! Also I feel I should follow the advice of someone truthful not someone when asked about his cheating basically said " do as I say not as I do" I never liked that argument from my parents and I am not gonna take it from someone I am paying their salary. As a boss you should DO WHAT I SAY AND WHAT IS BEST FOR EVERYONE! NOT JUST THE ELITE!! That last remark is for Romney and Gingrich. Do to the mess in Congress and the bickering between childish republicans I have become Independent! I am voting for Paul!

    January 19, 2012 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  20. T.J.

    This is a comedy fest right now. None of these guys have any chance of beating Obama come November.

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  21. Dee

    Ask gingrich why he forced Rick Perry out of the race and to endorse him? Santorum and Romney are the only two viable candidates. Why does he think paying more taxes is good? Does this mean he's more patriotic? I thought the conservative position was to pay less in tax to the govt. Romney's capital gains fall into a different category of income. Gingrich is a nightmare and his tactics are dirty dirty dirty. He is making me and mine despise him with his attacks and maneuvers.

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  22. Silent Majority

    We've heard how the candidates will be different from President Obama; could they tell us how they'll be different from George W. Bush, the last member of their party to hold that office?

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  23. CCKitty

    Someone please tell the candidates, especially Santorum, that the VA is a separate department than the Department of Defense. Cutting the defense budget does not impact the VA!!

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  24. Philip Fowler

    Question...neither Santorum, Paul, or Gingrich has ever governed a state. Only Mr. Romney. neither Santorum, Paul, or Gingrich has ever met a payroll. Only Mr. Romney. With our incredibly crushing debt, what makes Santorum, Paul, or Gingrich any better than Obama, who had no experience either–and look what's happened. Shouldn't we have a leader who has FISCAL experience and executive experience to clean up the mess?

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  25. Thedreamer

    Capitalism work lol. Capitalism only works for Romeny because he pays lower tax than everyone

    January 19, 2012 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
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