Live Blog: CNN Southern Republican Debate
January 19th, 2012
09:30 PM ET
10 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:

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.

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 #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. Tom in Chattanooga

    Tonight I have heard each candidate support "Pro Life" I would like them to define their view of "Pro Life". In my view, "Pro Life" is from conception until employment. If their views covers less of a time span, Why? Every child brought into the world deserves a chance for "Success". If "Pro Life" is just anti-abortion, that is cruel on the child brought into the world to be abandoned by those whom secured its birth. Is it not the duty of the supporters of "Pro Life" to provide the road and resources (not necessarily money) from birth to employment. If a child is born because it is the "Right" thing to do. Isn't it our obligation to insure the assistance that child can become employable?

    January 19, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  2. Gene

    About the Social Seurity Administration. What about all the money the SS Administration has collected from llegals with fake SS#? Why don't they address this issue? Why do they accept the money? No candidate has talked about this.

    January 19, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  3. Anonymous

    Why wasn't Paul permitted to give a closing remark?

    January 19, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  4. anonymous

    Tell Romney that the Constitution says "inalienable" not "unalienable" rights.

    January 19, 2012 10:01 pm at 10:01 pm |
  5. Joe

    What do we do with all the children born that people do not want and cannot afford. Some of you even believe it is wrong to use contraceptives. Are you going to build a big orphanage and keep borrowing money from China to feed, raise and school the millions of people. What is the economic and long range effect of this stance? NO one looks deeper it just sound good.

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  6. Darly314

    Why does The Newt think he can pick better cabinet members than he has wives? None of them are worthy of him.

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  7. Proud American

    Santorum is desperate. It is time for him to go home. Wherever that may be, PA or VA. Just make sure you pay the PA public school district you cheated out of $100,000.

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  8. GlenH

    Hey Rommey...which one of your sons you will send to the wars you want to us that first...draft dogger who is looking for a war.

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  9. Glen Piskula

    @ Peter Jones

    I have no problem at all with that question being asked of me, and I'll air my dirty laundry right here: I have none! I've been happily married to the same woman for a wonderful 8 years and look forward to the rest with anticipation. Of course I've never cheated on her. I wonder why Newt's wife is bitter? Hmmm... Could it have been the fact he cheated on her. Oh right, I forgot. Rules of morality don't apply to those who swear by them, even if they don't follow them themselves... It's an important question and I'm glad he asked it. If Newt cheated on his wives, who's to say he won't cheat America???

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  10. Joe Bene

    I learned one thing from this debate...I'm voting to re-elect Obama. The thought of having one of these guys behind the wheel is scary.

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  11. Jeff

    Our founding fathers worked for the People, today's government works for it self, how are you proposing this gets changed? Also, Special Interest money needs to be used to pay for programs short on money ie; Social Security, Debt and other items instead of the politicians pocket. How would you propose to change Special Interest contributions?

    January 19, 2012 10:02 pm at 10:02 pm |
  12. GI Joe

    Gingrich is too temperamental. Don't let him near that button

    Same goes for Mitt Romney

    We'd be in endless wars

    January 19, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  13. mutter

    Sorry but I would never vote for Newt. Lie to the ones that you love, you will have not a reason in the world to be truthful to me........ Sorry Newt, all you rich pac friends will never change my mind.

    January 19, 2012 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  14. Martin L

    It is obvious that all of the candidates are against abortion. It's easy to say that doctors who do them should be put in prison. What penalties do the candidates feel are appropriate for females that perform an abortion on themselves, i.e. use the "day after pill"?

    January 19, 2012 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  15. RealChange

    I became a Ron Paul voter now!. I have been researching and SHAME on the media, for not giving him due coverage, rather they tried to slander him. All the other candidates are big government guys, who will serve the interests of big selfish corporations who are funding them. They can bail them out and go for wars on other countries to benefit them. The fact that RON PAUL got more funding from active military members than ALL the other candidates COMBINED speaks a lot and if media does not want to recognize that, then I feel insulted that someone is trying to FOOL me and tell me who I should vote

    January 19, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    I like how Ron Paul destroyed Rick Santorum at the end!!

    January 19, 2012 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  17. greg

    Three are in it for themselves, and one is interested in serving this country and its people.

    January 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  18. nate

    this one is for romney i seen where he has passed a bill about the right to own a gun or a woman to have pepper spray for their protection in this bill you have to pay 100.00 for a card to own one and if you dont its a crime even if you dont have a gun just the shells its still a crime.a woman or man should have the right to protect themselves and not have to pay for it we already pay taxes for that how do the rest feel about that i wonder

    January 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  19. Will B.


    If there was one thing that you, CNN and other social media groups, could/should have done different: give Ron Paul more (or at least equal) media attention as given to the other candidates.

    Unfortunate as it is, a large portion of the American voters are uneducated about candidates and their historical voting record because they simply do not do their research; thus, electoral votes wasted merely on name recognition alone. Sad, yes, I know! Congressman Paul rarely (if ever) changes his moral beliefs to raise his likeability ratings. Paul is logical in his thought process, he does not use his time on debates to attack other candidates and their views (simply because he utilized the media attention given to him to educate the public, and not increase his "cool points!").

    In short, give this gentleman the same media attention as you (the social media groups) give the other candidates and let the public decide in the end.


    January 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  20. M

    Gingrich is quoting Carl Rove? As moderate independent, that's a no no

    January 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  21. Petar Vitanovich

    It's real sad how the crowd has to remind the media to be fair and include our only hope for a future, Dr. Ron Paul. The media pundits will try to blow this Newt situation up to keep people's focus away from Dr. Paul. They never mention that Dr. Ron Paul is the only candidate talking about cutting REAL money to save our country. It's also good to include that Dr. Paul has more support from active duty military than all other Republican candidates plus Obama, for those of you who are "worried" about foreign policy. I just hope South Carolina wakes up and realizes that the media is trying to pick the president and continue the "Status Quo".

    January 19, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  22. david e

    have to agree with Dave W. This was the worst moderator of all the debates. John King should be fired. We do not wanna have questions about personal attacks. He should have stuck to the issues. He could have asked about federal employees pay not your ad attacked this candidate. John was horrible!

    January 19, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    Gingrich and Romney are like used car sales men....don't trust them. Ron Paul!!!!!!!

    January 19, 2012 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  24. Eric

    Ron Paul's curious appeal to the younger generation I believe is rooted in their ability to not only still recognize the truth in Paul's messege but to also give truth weight. Falling in line or towing party lines are still alien acts to those who still
    remember what they were taught as children, truth matters and our leaders are sorely lacking. Go Ron Paul!

    January 19, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
  25. Josh B

    Ron Paul is a real American hero, he's not bounded by the political compromising and smooth-talking capabilities of the other candidates. Paul is guided by principle, he tells it like it is, he seeks the truth whereas other candidates seek grandstanding to attempt to garner popular spuport. They're fake sellouts, plain and simple.

    January 19, 2012 10:08 pm at 10:08 pm |
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