Gingrich expands debate threat
January 31st, 2012
02:47 PM ET
9 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. Dan J

    Gingrich knows that the only way he can potentially win the presidency is by embarrassing the president in a debate. So he wants these lincoln-douglas debates. Well, the president isn't going to agree to more than three. Then what? What is he left with?

    January 31, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. slippery

    All hot air no matter who does what.

    January 31, 2012 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |

    No worries, Newt. You'll never be POTUS anyway.

    January 31, 2012 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  4. manitou mike

    I'm not much of a politics the parlor game type but for those who are noodle this around. I would think it is apparent what is going on in the republican party right now and how it is supposed to play out. Newt and mitt battle to the death.neither arriving at the convention with enough delegates. the dance begins. finally a cry comes forth from the convention floor. the only hope the man who owes no campaign debts the man who could debate Obama with half his brain tied behind his back the only man with a national machine ready to move on a moments notice. Reluctantly in the footsteps of Washington arrives at the convention the savior of capitalism Rush Limbaugh.

    January 31, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. unsub

    mssge to Noot,

    January 31, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  6. John F. Leech

    I'm pretty sure that Newt doesn't have to worry about the format, content, or hosting of the Fall Debates, as he isn;t going to be involved.

    John – Phoenix, AZ

    January 31, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  7. mark

    Probably would want it moderated by someone who is fair and balanced, like Bill O'Reilly. It's a moot point. You can't debate if you're not the nominee.

    January 31, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  8. John

    Has not even won the nomination and he is already blaming the media and insisting everyone else change to accomidate him. He really is a true republican!

    January 31, 2012 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  9. The Real Tom Paine

    Newt is a true conservative: he only like the media when they function as a propaganda machine for him.

    January 31, 2012 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    How appropriate that Newt's big idea is to take us back to 1858. (Hey GOP'ers – there's a metaphor in there if you can find it)

    Almost as bad as trying to scare retired Jews in Florida by making robo-calls accusing Romney of somehow campaigning against Kosher.

    Almost as bad as pandering to retired NASA workers by saying we'll build a city on the moon (Really? What is this, 1961?? Can this guy PLEASE get some professional help?)

    Almost as bad as vowing to 'not go negative', then here we are three weeks later with more mudslinging and fingerpointing and imbecile juvenile behavior than I've ever seen in a national race.

    And then there's the ethics violations, and the diverced wives, and the pretend-conversion to catholicism – All things that Newt hopes you have all forgotten about.

    Newt is just repulsive in every way. And Romney is no less repulsive by engaging in the same mud-slinging. Send 'em both home!

    January 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  11. TM

    Translation: "These reporters won't ask me the questions that I like." Newt would agree to debates in a second if they were moderated by Hannity or Palin. Gingrich is a COWARD.

    January 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  12. v_mag

    In a way, Nut Gangrene has already won. He gets to spend the rest of his days saying, "Well, if I had been the Republican nominee for president, I would have wiped the floor with Obama." Rom-money will only be able to say, "I was a major party nominee for president", after the Obama landslide. Nut should thank his lucky stars that he's losing at this stage instead of in November.

    January 31, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  13. Truth and Nothing But the Truth

    Newt, honestly, you're way over the top. Just shut the heck up, and win the nomination before making demands. And BTW, STOP WHINING!!

    January 31, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
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