Heated Debate As Candidates Prep For South Carolina Primary

Fireworks flew in the final GOP debate leading up to the South Carolina primary.


South Carolina voters cast their ballots Saturday in the state's all-important primary.

Thursday night, the four remaining GOP candidates took to the stage for the final debate leading up to the primary.

The fireworks flew from the very beginning: Newt Gingrich fumed after being asked about allegations from his ex-wife that he had asked her for an open marriage while having an affair.

Gingrich slammed CNN--and the media in general--for "protecting Barack Obama" by attacking Republicans.

Mitt Romney, who has been locked in an increasingly ugly back-and-forth with Gingrich, backed his rival up, telling moderator John King to "get on with the real issues."

Romney faced an unfriendly audience when he continued to hedge on releasing his tax returns.

"Maybe," the former Massachusetts governor said when asked if he would follow his father's example and make his tax returns public. "I don't know how many years I'll release." Romney's father, also a governor and presidential candidate, made 12 years of returns public.

Romney's answer was met with boos and jeers from the crowd.

Gingrich said that it was ultimately Romney's decision, but he thought voters should be able to see if there was anything in a candidate's background that could hurt them in the general election.

Rick Santorum threw a few punches of his own Thursday night, delivering what CNN called "the sharpest and most detailed takedown to date" of Gingrich's time as Speaker of the House.

"Four years into his speakership, he was thrown out by the conservatives," Santorum said. "It was a coup against him in three. I served with him. I was there. I knew what the problems were going on in the House of Representatives when Newt Gingrich was leading this -- leading there. It was an idea a minute, no discipline, no ability to be able to pull things together."

Santorum also pointed to his newly minted victory out of Iowa--the final tally of votes showed Santorum, not Romney, the unofficial victor--as reason he still belonged in the race.

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  • by That Guy on Jan 20, 2012 at 10:53 AM
    @ Remember: I'm pretty sure I could turn your argument around on you. Do you remember when all the Democrats said Clinton's side fling was no big deal and continued to support him? Now you're ready to tar and feather Newt over his. I've got lots of better reasons not to support Newt Gingrich than his marital issues. The same goes for Clinton.
  • by watching Location: USA on Jan 20, 2012 at 10:43 AM
    Newt - perfect name for a perfect slime.
  • by Remember Location: East Colo. Spgs on Jan 20, 2012 at 08:46 AM
    Do any of you Republicans remember that you almost tarred and feathered President Clinton for his little side fling?? And now, the majority of you are supporting Newt G.? Morality, honesty and integrity; none of the top Republican contenders thus far have any of these qualities. Disappointed, I am. I was not impressed with last night's forum. Newt reaction to some questions almost came across that he is a bully. Mitt's responses, or lack of, just plain displayed the attitude; that he really is aboe having to answer anything he does not want to answer. Therefore, I tend to believe; he is not honest nor trustworthy.
  • by Nath Location: Colo Spgs on Jan 20, 2012 at 08:37 AM
    Notice someone missing from this article? The establishment and media are going to try to make Ron Paul become invisible. Newt is the NWO's first choice but would settle of Mitt. Faux conservative Santorum will be phased out. Ron Paul is a problem for them and their only hope is to brand him an extremist like was done to Barry Goldwater in 1964.
  • by Political Thinker Location: Colorado on Jan 20, 2012 at 08:01 AM
    No way will I vote for Mitt Romney or Gingrich. They both speak out of both sides of their mouths. All take, no action and no plans for the furture. If they have such leadership skills then why haven't any of them come up with a plan, along side the fellow politicians to help create jobs, reduce taxes for the middle class and below and come up with a plan to stop the high cost of medical insurance rip offs! We all want to blame each President for the failures to come up with a good economic balance; but none of them can even work with one another on the same political field to resolve the simplest of issues! Im beginning to think I just might vote for a democrat this election becuase I'm so discusted with the Republicans failure to compromise or come up with a fair and logical plan for our future.
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