Gingrich expands debate threat
January 31st, 2012
02:47 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich expands debate threat

(CNN) - For much of the election cycle, Newt Gingrich has been challenging President Barack Obama to Lincoln-Douglas style debates, modeled after the long philosophical discussions between Abraham Lincoln and his opponent Stephen Douglas in 1858.

The Republican White House hopeful took his proposal a step further on Monday, saying he would not accept a debate moderated by reporters should he win the nomination and campaign against Obama in the fall.

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"The reporters who run the debates have no interest in asking any question which will affect Obama," Gingrich said at a Pensacola rally ahead of Florida's critical primary. "We don't need to have a second Obama person at the debate."

Gingrich has repeatedly called for a series of the three-hour, moderator-free debates with Obama, threatening to follow the president on the campaign trail during the general election until he agrees to the debates.

Gingrich has not shied away, however, from attending any of the journalist-moderated primary debates so far. And there are more coming, with CNN hosting a debate in Arizona on February 22.

The former House speaker has been vocal about his distrust of journalists, most notably making headlines after lambasting the news media at a South Carolina debate on the heels of an ABC News interview with his ex-wife.

At the time the interview aired, polling in the Palmetto State showed Gingrich had closed the gap on rival Mitt Romney with support growing for the former speaker's candidacy.

When asked during CNN's South Carolina debate if he wanted to address the controversy, Gingrich pivoted off of it to criticize the media, a topic that always plays well with conservative primary voters.

Describing the debates as a "game show approach," Gingrich said in a Fox News interview Monday that reporters should not have the authority to "decide what question matters."

"They get to decide what topic to bring up," Gingrich said. "I think that's absurdity."

The Commission on Presidential Debates announced last fall the dates and locations for four general election debates in October. The schedule includes three presidential debates and one for the vice presidential nominees.

According to the commission, debate moderators will not be selected until the summer. In the last election cycle, the moderator list included high-profile journalists, including Jim Lehrer and Gwen Ifill of PBS's "NewsHour," Tom Brokaw of NBC News, and Bob Schieffer of CBS News.

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. RWB1956

    Follow the President around? Sounds like stalking to me.

    January 31, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Mike

    Obama will clean Newts or Mitts clock in any debate forum! Obama vs Newt would be great TV!

    January 31, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  3. JustMe

    Too bad it'll never happen since Newt will never get the nomination because I would love to see Obama kick Newt's kiester.

    January 31, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  4. Man

    Send this guy to moon with his white helmet mistress. She looks like a moon avatar anyway

    January 31, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  5. GI Joe

    Thing is, Newt, you WON'T BE THE NOMINEE. Palins and Herman Cain endorsements put the final nail in your coffiin. You should have taken note when McCain failed because of her. She and her famly are NOT acceptable to the people of this country. (Neither are you)

    January 31, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. Jake

    this man is just terrible. a terrible, terrible human being!

    January 31, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  7. Jamie from Riverside

    He won't have to worry a lick about what or how many or when or anything about Presidential debates.
    Flash to fat boy: you'll never be the nominee.
    This is just another of fat boy's fantasies like colonizing the moon or making poor kids clean toilets.
    Who are these loonies who like to say he's an idea guy...ya, stupid ideas.

    January 31, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  8. Kate

    Newt and the MSM have a symbiotic relationship.

    They feed off of each other. The media wants a show, and Newt wants to be shown.

    January 31, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  9. GrogInOhio

    Not to worry. Newt has a snowball's chance of winning the nomination. Not even Republicans are insane enough to make him their nominee.

    January 31, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    I just want to know when Newt is going to drop that baby he's carrying around all this time

    January 31, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  11. kevin

    the ting is...with all he has done wrong and been forgiven, we probably don't know half of the stuff this idiot has done. Just because you can fool the same rubes that made Jimmy Swaggart rich, doesn't mean you can pull the wool over the country's eyes. bye bye Newt

    January 31, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Taran

    Newt, give it up. With all the baggage you have there is no way you could beat Obama in the general election. I'm not that fond of Romney, but even he would be a better president for this country than the one we have now.

    January 31, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  13. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    I hope he'll accept an election voted on by voters.

    January 31, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  14. MikeMazzla

    How about debates like they did in the stone ages...bashing each other with sticks... what is he talking about. Yeah that Jim Leherer he is such a leftist LOL IDK every presidential debate ive seen they just ask questions and let people answer them..

    January 31, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  15. freidamurray

    Who does Newt want to moderate the debates then? Oh I know, Sarah Palin! You betcha!

    January 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. ct

    old bully

    January 31, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  17. Eye of Newt

    Its super to see Newt completely melt down under the threat of another, huge political failure.

    And another thing Newton has in common with Sarah Palin, besides disgusting arrogance = a distaste for the media reminding America about all their weaknesses, mistakes, ignorance, and moral failures!!!!

    January 31, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  18. Jon in Rochester

    Newt would prefer that the debates not be moderated so that they can be a free-for-all of name calling or the telling of tall tales of his accomplishments instead of having to talk about his real record of corruption and moral shortcomings or having to layout realistic ideas that might get the economy back on track (unlike making the moon the 51 state).

    January 31, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  19. rush limballs

    Don't worry Newt , You will not be there , Maybe you can debate yourself on FAUX news

    January 31, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  20. shugee

    OK so the lamestream media are asking hard questions about talking points that newt himself brings up about Romney and Obama etc. How about this one? Newt: How did you attain your god-like status and what glowing wisdom will you bless our poor ignorant lives with? I believe this is the type of question you were looking for. Those media types just don't get you.

    January 31, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. A Texan

    Hang in there Newt !!!! You`re making great press and future campaign adds for the Democrats.............

    January 31, 2012 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    First time I ever heard the challenger demand to set the agenda for the debates or he wouldn't show up. Well, I guess that's what happens when you are the smartest guy in the room and makes sure everyone else knows it.
    Of course, the Secret Service would demand that he actually wear clothes that fit if he is on stage with the President. After all, when that button on his jacket goes flying off, it could become a deadly projectile weapon.

    January 31, 2012 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  23. unsub

    what is the "liberal media?"

    January 31, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. Rudy NYC

    Mrl Gingrich, your whine has become stale.

    January 31, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  25. Jules

    Why doesn't he challenge Romney to this first and see how it works out for him? He got his clock cleaned in the last debate so he should be careful what he wishes for. Obama will take them both on at the same time.

    January 31, 2012 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
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