Sparks flew Thursday night as CNN’s John King opened the last GOP debate before the South Carolina primary with a pointed question to Newt Gingrich on the recent allegations leveled by his ex-wife. Gingrich, in typical form, took the opportunity to scold King and CNN for choosing to open a Presidential debate with such a deeply personal subject. The audience hung on Gingrich’s every syllable clearly reacting positively to his campaign against media bias. This debate was held in Charleston, South Carolina and was also sponsored by the Southern Republican Leadership Conference.
Here is the entire debate video via YouTube:
Alternate debate full video link: ElectAd.com
Original Air Time: Thursday, January 19 at 8pm ET on CNN
Participants: Romney, Gingrich, Santorum, Paul
Report from CNN:
The four remaining GOP candidates played to their individual strengths on Thursday and tried to leave a lasting impression in a final, boisterous debate two days before South Carolina’s pivotal primary.
In a campaign cycle where debates have had direct consequences on the ebb and flow of the race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich turned his contempt for the media into one of his strongest performances yet. When CNN Chief National Correspondent John King opened the debate with a question about open marriage, following an interview by Gingrich’s ex-wife that he had sought one, the Republican chastised him.
“To take an ex-wife and make it two days before the primary a significant question in a presidential campaign is as close to despicable as anything I can imagine,” Gingrich told King, the moderator of the debate.
Gingrich’s response elicited loud applause from the audience.
The debate came at the end of a ground-shaking day that saw former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum being declared winner of the Iowa caucuses more than two weeks after his apparent second-place finish to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry dropping out of the race and throwing his support to Gingrich.
Texas Rep. Ron Paul was the fourth candidate in the debate.
As near as I could tell, Gingrich did the best he could to seal the deal and try to overtake Romney in South Carolina. Ron Paul performed well though he did not get the same strong reaction Gingrich did and neither did Rick Santorum. Romney played a lot of defense again and seemed to miss on a few questions, especially regarding releasing his tax returns which should have been a simple answer but instead turned into a drawn out discussion. Romney did take the opportunity to lay out a defense of capitalism and free markets when asked about his tenure at Bain Capital. It appears he was much more prepared for these questions and that was his strongest reaction of the evening.