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. rslip

    Mitt dodging the question of how he got to the figure of 100,000 jobs. Cant really identify where those jobs are???

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. StevenCee

    Why didn't Romney & Santorum answer the question about 3 programs to create jobs??? Come on John King, let them ALL answer the questions!

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  3. Thomas Klis

    Im a broke college student, however, I can still live manage to live within my means. When will the government? and can any of you unequivocly state that you will not increase government debt?

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  4. DBisbee

    To Newt Gingrich and all the others on the stage at the debate tonight, character IS an issue that MUST be considered. It was when the Republicans were attacking the Dems like Clinton and company! It tells us voters what kind of ethical standard the candidates live by! Dem or GOP, it matters!

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  5. Topher

    With elected officials (most notably) Congress at historically low approval ratings, I am curious if any of these candidates would have the conviction to support measure to implement term limits for politicians, judges and all other elected officials. To effectively end "career politics" and pandering.

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  6. Kristen Cario and Taylor Jackson 18 years old

    If elected how would you fix social programs which are leading to a demise of the younger generation?

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  7. Natalie

    Ok so here I sit waiting patiently to hear something new from the right wing besides attacks on President Obama. All I see are four Bible thumping hypocrits who find grace for themselves but for no one else. Romney needs to call his relatives in Mexico and see if they have room for him.

    Newt is good at throwing out words like dispicable when dealing with legitimate concerns about his character. Nothing more dispicable than a liar not man enough to own his own truth.

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  8. j. may

    A question for Ron Paul: "Do you feel the media, or, the people of the united states decide whom is favored in providing fair and equal coverage for the republican candidates during this primary ?

    A question for Newt: Is adultery legal in Washington dc ?

    A question for Romney: Do you have any idea the struggle of out of work Americans are facing with escalated utility bills for energy republican's candidates support over the working poor and middle class ?

    A question for Santorum: Do you expect to, if elected to office, plan on following the same arcade belief structure you enforced while in office in PA to the detriment of the working poor and middle class ?

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  9. NameLiz Eubanks

    John King rocks! Thanks for calling out Newt. His hypocritical posturing has grown monotonous. Does he really think his history is invisible? Thanks, CNN!!

    January 19, 2012 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  10. DMAHJA

    If on September 11th, 2013, Iran is found to be indirectly responsible for exploding a dirty bomb in Israel, as President would you initiate on the ground military intervention in Iran?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. Evan

    Santorum, you have made your beliefs well known, how can you gauranty that you will maintain a separation of church and state?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  12. Muhammed Bojang

    An honest honorable man, looks at the faults or negatives of his opponent, and as well embraces and acknowledge what his opponent has done well. what did the president done so well that you comment him on it. please answer based on facts not politics.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  13. David Newton

    Could each candidate please explain your stance on SOPA and PIPA and why you support or oppose it?

    Thank you!

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  14. Simon

    Question for Newt Gingrich: For how long do you believe American troops will be required to stay in Afghanistan?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  15. Brett

    GO NEWT! Got to love the Liberal Media, blast him for a story from an X-Wife. Here is one they buried.......So when Barack Obama was on 60 minutes on Sunday (video) and Steve Kroft says “You inhaled [marijuana].” Mr. Obama simply says “I did.” He also admits to cocaine use and that he thought about using heroine. He goes on. “It’s not something that I’m proud of, but that’s part of the journey that I’ve taken. I like to think that by letting people know the mistakes I’ve made that maybe young people behind me are looking and saying ‘You know what? This is a guy who made mistakes and he was able to write his life and get on track.’ And that’s I think an important message.”
    hmmmmm, FELONY COCAINE USE? Really?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  16. Shawn

    ARE THEY GOING TO TALK TRADE? Probably not.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  17. Dave Jones

    Would you reopen production of the F-22 Raptor–the only 5th Generation fighter on earth? The F-22 would make the United States Air Force unassiable if deployed in reasonable numbers. Moreover, the President has drastically cut almost every defense sector, including the F-35, that was supposed to replace the F-22. What do see as a proper defense posture and structure for the future–say from now through 2025?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  18. Andrew Varnes

    Question for CNN and other liberals:

    Why are the mistakes and missteps by liberals swept under the rug while mistakes by conservatives are inflated and reported inaccurately? Anything said by a conservative is twisted and made out to be something negative. Newt's passion and direct nature is something this country needs badly.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  19. Sean McGovern

    To all candidates –

    If the candidate's personal lives and families are off limits for debate and discussion in the political arena, why is my marriage to my husband and that of many other legally married gays and lesbians up for debate? Why are our personal lives political debating points in a party that claims to be about liberty and less government interference?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  20. Christopher Bentley

    I am a US Marine who currently supports Ron Paul. I have deployed 6 times in the support of the GWOT!! I want to know why the other candidates think that engaging Iran diplomatically, rather than militarily, is viewed as bad foreign policy. I have deployed to Iraq 3 times and Afghanistan 3 times. I have had numerous Iraqis and Afghans and tell me that they wish the Americans would have just come over and persuaded their governments to change, not forced them. Ron Paul is the best candidate by far!!!

    Semper Fi,
    Gunnery Sergeant Chris Bentley

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  21. Phillip

    Would someone ask Romney if he said its not the role of goverment to create jobs, Why does he have a job plan, and why is the current unemployment the presidents fault. Profit is good, but not at the expense of others, that is not a true christian belief.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  22. Jeff K

    Nobody mentions anymore the action of making English as our official language. Is that strictly to avoid angering any group that might turn their vote elsewhere? I would like to hear their views on that and if any candidate has any intentions of passing that?

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  23. De

    is anyone else tired of how romney almost always evades the direct question? he beats around the bush and never really answers the questions. i wish the moderators would call him on it and make him answer the question. he always attacks obama and changes the subject

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

    Question to all candidates. How can we make the U.S. competitive globally in order to compete with the production of China and Japan? We need more products produced in the U.S. and sold in Wal-Mart.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  25. Isaac Miller

    If you won’t end the war, you at least declare it so it's constitutional? This is make or break for many voters.

    January 19, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
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