Primary Debates and Forums

CNN/Southern Republican Leadership Conference Debate

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Thursday, January 19, 2012 at the North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston
SC from p.m. ET. 

Press Releases from CNN  |  More Pre-Debate  |  Post-Debate

Sponsors:  CNN and the Southern Republican Leadership Conference (SRLC).

Candidates:  Former Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Ron Paul, former Gov. Mitt Romney and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

Moderator:  CNN anchor and chief national correspondent John King.

Audience:  .

Broadcast:  Televised on CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International, CNN Radio, and the American Forces Network.

Format:  .

Overview:  This debate came at a fairly crucial point in the campaign, just two days before the South Carolina primary.  Further adding to the drama, on the morning of the debate Gov. Rick Perry announced suspension of his campaign and his endorsement of former Speaker Newt Gingrich. 

This debate will likely be most remembered for the sharp exchange that ensued when King led off with a question to Gingrich about his ex-wife.  Gingrich, who has made something of a habit of taking on the media in debates, responded, “I think the destructive vicious negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.  I’m appalled you would begin a presidential debate on a topic like that."