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

    To all who condemn someone who have been divorced, you were very fortunate to have a successful first marriage. Or maybe you were successful with your second marriage? Talking about what Newt went through in his married life was a painful experience and something that Newt has to live with. Many have been married and divorced in this country and it is painful. So if you have been through a divorce, my sincere condolences. If you have been blessed with a successful marriage , whether the first, second, or third, then you are very blessed. For all the others who throw stones ….. get off you high horse and instead of talking about integrity, help with compassion. And one last item …. Last time I checked, divorce is not something we send our citizen to prison for, but you can go to other countries where they do.

    January 19, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  2. Josey

    That so called "debate" was a waste of time. Watching Santorum debate himself while Romney and Gingrich moderate and Ron Paul stands off camera wasn't worth the time. I'm glad AMC had "The Fugitive" playing.

    January 19, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  3. jterrier

    you left out several of romney's best stingers: to newt, i've looked at reagans diary, only mentioned newt once saying that newt had presented an idea at a meeting and it wasn't very good; and then equally good, told newt that he wasn't going to let newt take credit for romney's success.

    January 19, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  4. jackie

    Would you suggest your children to join the miltary? Please tell me why you would allow my child to stay in afghanistan.

    January 19, 2012 10:10 pm at 10:10 pm |
  5. Josey

    That so called "debate" was a waste of time. Watching Santorum debate himself while Romney and Gingrich moderate and Ron Paul stands off camera wasn't worth the time.

    January 19, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  6. Jeff

    It's blatantly obvious how CNN was ignoring Ron Paul with the little time that was given to him to speak. The trickery with the camera work was also a ploy that was used showing the other three candidates while leaving Mr. Paul out of screen shot. You people at CNN think you are so smart and that the people of the US are so stupid as to not recognize this, but this will all backfire and Ron Paul will come out on top. VOTE for RON PAUL!!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. Lisa

    Funny – Obama has got things going in the right direction again and big business is doing great. There is job growth every month – so how did Obama wreck everything? I think he saved everything from the mess the repubs made – 2 wars, big tax cuts, wall street and big oil corruption under Bush put us in a big hole that Obama had to try to dig us out despite the rebups best efforts to put road blocks up.

    January 19, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  8. BM

    Gingrich is a hypocrite, short tempered and arogant. We need a candidate who would show some control. He cannot syand the heat and needs to get out of the kitchen. I hope the folks from South Carolina will vote for some one other than the guy who does not set a good role model for the young generation.

    January 19, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  9. The Vocal Citizen

    So... you interview the three "favorites" but won't take two minutes out to interview Ron Paul?! Why do you hate him so much, CNN?

    January 19, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  10. steven chaisson

    I wish one of the candidate explain to me how a family making $35,000 a year, is going to pay for an emergency operation that cost $100,000 with a health saving plan. How are you going to save that much money. if the candidate says the family should have a basic insurance plan. Insurance is basically a socialistic model, where people share risk of a health problem that we can not afford to pay, so the insured share risk and cost, sound like socialism to me, not capitalism.

    January 19, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  11. Aaron

    I'm switching my vote from Newt to Dr. Ron Paul. I never thought I would say this but??? Dangit the man is right.

    January 19, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  12. sylvester

    Well here we go again. In Mitts closing remarks he misquoted the Declaration of Independence by saying "unalienable rights"
    instead of inalienable rights.

    January 19, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  13. NYC mom

    DESPICABLE?? ASTOUNDING?? I will tell you what is despicable -Newt Gingrich cheating on his wife WHILE he was criticizing President Clinton for the exact same thing and saying Clinton wasn't fit to serve as president because of his infidelity!! ASTOUNDING??? I will tell you what is astounding: that he can make everyone else feel like THEY are despicable for asking him about his inconsistencies. Sure we all make mistakes and we need forgiveness. But if you dish out judgement and criticism of Clinton, then be a man and take it when others dish it out to you. Even more astounding: that conservatives would want him to be their president!! Gingrich WILL NOT be my president.

    January 19, 2012 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  14. William

    Watchable debate but I wouldn't vote for any of these Republicans. John King's proved once again that next to the Bush administrations the America media has been the second biggest failure when it comes to keeping the America public informed with the facts. John you disappointed with your reactions to Newts answer to a open marriage. You allowed Newt to blame everyone including the president for his wife's accusations.

    January 19, 2012 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  15. jterrier

    john did great. one of the best debates. newt's self-righteous attack was not terrible. you have to be an idiot to believe it. marianne doesn't sound like a liar.

    January 19, 2012 10:18 pm at 10:18 pm |
  16. jterrier

    meant to write that newt's self-righteous attack was terrible.

    January 19, 2012 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  17. Joao

    I am a legal inmigrant and I agree with the GOP in making sure we stop ilegal inmigration and support legal inmigration. If most of the hispanics and others crossing the border want to be citizend of the US, then they have to be on the side of doing things the legal way

    January 19, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  18. T King

    I'm sick of the press trying to sway the people. I agree with Gingrich about them and I'm a woman. I wasn't for him before but after tonight ..I changed my mind. I like the way he speaks up.

    January 19, 2012 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  19. Rolfe

    The high point of this "debate" was when the moderator tried to move on without giving Ron Paul his chance to give his views on the abortion question. The audience response to this passover sure put the moderator in his place.

    January 19, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  20. Quentin Hoffmeister

    Mitt Romney is the best choice! Newt was voted out from his own people the GOP, Santorum is ignoring what Romney and Gingrich burned him on and still sticks with his false story, Ron Paul is crazy and doesnt have what it can take to beat Barack Obama

    January 19, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  21. RealChange

    My! it was so SHAMELESSLY OBVIOUS how main stream media is trying to ignore or slander the only non lobbyist candidate on state – RON PAUL! I feel ashamed now, if I do not donate to him to get his own coverage in ads. Rather, now, I feel it's my responsibility to not let media bully me to choose who they favor as candidate.

    January 19, 2012 10:22 pm at 10:22 pm |
  22. Doctor Jay

    These candidates want to rewrite history. Have they forgotten that for people of color and women in this country, the liberty and pursuit of happiness is a pretty new concept. I don't want to go back to the begining of our history–we weren't living up to the ideals of our founding. Shouldn't gay people also have the right to the pursuit of happiness? It seems they want to limit life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to people who look and think like them.

    January 19, 2012 10:23 pm at 10:23 pm |
  23. KenneyP of Colorado

    Romney said 'President Obama is the biggest impediment to job creation.' I thought it was the lack of CONSUMERS because of the massive job losses this country experienced at the end of the last presidency. Gingrich was appalled that a question about his personal sex life was asked but yet had no problems diving in President Clinton's personal sex life, really?!? Newt made just over 3 Million dollars (of which 1.6 Million from Freddie Mac) yet paid just under 1 Million in taxes. Mitt made his income mostly from capital gains, for which Newt wants to drop to ZERO. People that earn income are also called CONSUMERS or JOB CREATORS. Why not drop that tax to zero which would only cause businesses to create more jobs. Newt wants to repeal the banking bill that brought us such things as forced OVERDRAFT fees. He is in bed with his banking buddies.

    January 19, 2012 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  24. Joao

    Any of these candidates, except Paul can take Obama. All the GOP needs to do is talk about what Obama has promised and not delivered and the fact that most Americans are worst off today than they were when he took office. I gave him 1 year after he took over the government to make his changes and nothing has changed but gotten worst. I honestly believe that the American people will support a new president

    January 19, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  25. Canam

    Ron Paul is insane.

    January 19, 2012 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
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