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. Rath Anderson

    Newt Gingrich is defending our constitution. He will be a breath of fresh air as the POTUS.

    January 19, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  2. Kathleen Raiche

    Let me get this straight.
    These guys are for totally eliminating what they like to call "OBAMACARE" which elminates pe-existing conditions clauses in insurance you and I paid for individually or through our employers, andlifetime limitations on what that company would or will pay for our care. Wow so as capitalists we are totally for the companies/corporations imposing any fee, limitation or exclusion because of their bottom line. Which they will ALWAYS do unless sdomeone (us, government) tells them they must stop.
    On the other hand Republican presidentialo candidates are excoriating Romney for having LED a company, or investerd in or bought a company which would have done the same things under our capitalist system.(
    Which I think is the est in the world by the way,) S
    oooo..... Tell me what is wrong wi th this picture?
    They are actualloy scrwing themselves while the country watches.

    January 19, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  3. one11one

    Mr. Speaker, you have had three wives and three religions, each supposedly a life long commitment. Is this your idea of family values and integrity?

    January 19, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  4. Elgin

    If letting the bush era tax cuts expire is class warfare. Was it class warfare to put those tax cuts in place?

    January 19, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. westward

    Romney's answer for everything was to cut all federal spending by sending everything to the state level. The Republican audience applauded. Little did they realize that South Carolina, like most other southern Republican states, is a welfare state. They can't afford any of these programs on a local basis. None – Nada.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  6. mac gardner

    Was there a conflict of interest for Supreme Court Justices Thomas and Scalia to attend a meeting geared at planning strategy for the "Citizens United" case at the home of the Koch brothers, and then to go to Washington and vote for the Koch's position?

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  7. Robert Dark

    Question for Ron Paul. What are your thoughts on the current state of the Republican party? It seems it's ideals on foreign policy are almost identical to the Democrats. Do you think it can be explained by the theory "Overton window"? If so, please explain.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    Do you think there should be a limit to how long you can take advantage of government assistance? Also why should people be able to default on student loans receive help and the people that struggle to pay those loans to keep from defaulting not receive any help

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  9. Sherry

    LET RON PAUL SPEAK !!!!!!!!!!
    I cannot stand neither Romney or Gingrich, both are not good for us. We will end in a worse situation then we are now! They do not have what it takes. I see similiarity to Nixon and Carter when we listen to these candidiates.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  10. Schettino

    Romney is the phoniest of the four

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  11. Yvonne

    The snide paternalistic attitude of Santorum is astounding. With regard to illegal immigration and people who have been in the USA for years or decades, but should be deported, I wonder if he ever thinks to ask himself"What would Jesus do?"He proclaims to be Christian, he certainly does not practice what he preaches. Pathetic, I hope he is gone soon.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  12. rod

    My question re-phrased?

    The government has created a litiginous society, monstrous health care of patient entitlement, insurance, pharmaceutical empowerment vs health care enslavement (unaffordable health care, medical student loans}. How would you restore genuine practice of medicine and affordable health care?

    Thanks again

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. Susan Booth

    Many people feel that Republican's ONLY care about fetuses NOT children. What do you say to those people who feel you only care about children in the womb, not when they're on the planet.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  14. Lisa

    Does Sen Rick Santorum have anything to say that isn't a reaction to the other candidates? It seems that his focus is to refer and react and attack the other candidates.

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  15. Frank Lopez

    Why not ask the question if the NDAA, signed by Obama on new years eve, which allows for the indefinate detention of Americans at home or abroad is constitutionally sound?

    January 19, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  16. Elgin

    Correction: Bush era

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  17. Dave w

    Let Ron talk!

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  18. geo924

    To Romney: It wasn't union stooges who brought this country down in 2008. It was those stooges in the highest management positions who pulled that off....to their financial benefit! Mitt, who wants middle class blue collar workers to make the minimum wage, tell us he created jobs. Duane Read? Staples? All low paying jobs that you cannot possibly live on.

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  19. Pamela Thurston

    If candidates are for the preservation of life, are they also for the retention of integrity during the end of life period? Will they support government funded palliative care programs that preserve the dignity of life during every period?

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  20. Schettino

    Newt is too smart to believe in gods

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  21. Sharon

    As a naturalized citizen I am very familiar with immigration and it's clear that none of the candidates know the current process to permanent residence or citizenship. It's time to encourage foreign workers but institute a flat tax that taxes non-citizens at a higher premium rate – that way they can come and enjoy the benefits of a first world country but they contribute. For illegals in the country – give them a chance to register as legal residents so they START paying taxes and make them pay the higher rates – that will make up for all the years they have spent without paying taxes.

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  22. Felix

    Please ask Romney why he said he will support a woman's right to choice if he was prolife?

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  23. Kitti

    When will ALL politicians wake up about the abortion issue??? Why is there legislation for a single, medical procedure when this should be regulated by the AMA? These men don't know what they are talking about. They are spewing the party line. I am not a full-on pro abortion person, but I believe everyone would be best served if this medical procedure were regulated and governed by the medical community!

    January 19, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  24. Mark Schoeman

    Ron Paul reminds me of my Uncle Larry

    Uncle Larry always rattles on and on about his libertarian ideals and when I point out simple common sense reasons for why we actually need a functioning government, he just ignores it and keeps talking.

    My question for Ron Paul is this:

    If you think the government should shrink exponentially, why do you think the government grew to the size it is today?

    Is it possible that politicians were presented with problems that only the government could solve and created government agencies to deal with those problems and that's why so many agencies seem unnecessary to politicians today, because the problems the agencies are solving are no longer visible?

    January 19, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  25. Dave w

    Why do you ignore Ron Paul?

    January 19, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
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