10 Most Talked About Moments From the New Hampshire GOP Debates

3:05 PM PST 01/08/2012 by Jane Kellogg

With just 48 hours to go until Tuesday's New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul and Rick Perry go head to head in this weekend's two Republican presidential debates.

The two Republican debates leading up to the New Hampshire primary Saturday and Sunday were only 10 hours apart, yet they felt as different as night and day.

While Saturday night's debate on ABC was largely Mitt Romney's, Sunday morning's debate on NBC was everyone else's, as Jon Huntsman, Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum all took opportunities to knock Romney down. Ron Paul and Rick Perry on the other hand remained mostly disconnected from the rest of the candidates.

If you didn't catch the full three-and-a-half hours of debates this weekend, we've put together the top ten most talked about moments from the two New Hampshire debates.

 

Paul's Microphone Backfires, Santorum Fires Back
Throughout Saturday night's debate, the microphones kept feeding back while the candidates were talking. When Ron Paul was questioned about allegations he had made about Rick Santorum being corrupt and accepting money from lobbyists, Paul's microphone backfires again. "They caught you not telling the truth, Ron," quips Santorum. Santorum backfired against Paul's accusations of corruption by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, saying, "If you haven't been sued by CREW, you're not a conservative."

 

Huntsman Shows Off His Mandarin
When the conversation turned to China Saturday night, Jon Huntsman took the opportunity to show off his language skills. When Romney stated that, as president, he would demand the Chinese stop taking American jobs, the former Ambassador to China jumped in by saying something in Mandarin. Romney, clearly at a loss for words, throws up his hands -- and Huntsman explained he felt what Romney was calling for would lead to a trade war.

 

Rick Santorum: "There are Only Gay Couples in Certain States"
Rick Santorum fumbled over the issues of gay marriage and adoption by gay couples Saturday, arguing it is a state issue, as "there are only gay couples in certain states." When asked what would happen to the 1,800 or so same-sex couples who are already married in New Hampshire if a federal ban were passed, he responded, "If the constitution says marriage is between a man and a woman, then marriage is between a man and a woman. And therefore that's what marriage is and would be in this country, and those who are not men and women who are married, would not be married."

 

Mitt Romney Flip Flops -- in One Answer
Romney is frequently accused of flip-flopping on the issues, but in Saturday night's debate, he managed to do it in one drawn out answer. When he is questioned about his stance on the Supreme Court's decision stating the Constitution gives a right to privacy in regard to contraception, Romney initially responds that he doesn't think that decision was correct. However, when George Stephanopoulos presses further, Romney says there's no reason to allow states to ban contraception.

"Should we allow states to ban contraception? No, states don't want to ban contraception, so why would we try to put it in the Constitution? With regards to gay marriage, I told you that's when I would amend the constitution. Contraception? It's working just fine, just leave it alone!"

Stephanopoulos called him out, saying, "You've given two answers to the question." The audience jeered as if they had just watched their favorite wrestler get knocked to the ground in the ring. "Do I believe the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade? Yes, I do," Romney reiterated.

 

Santorum Says He Would Love His Gay Son
"What if you had a son who came to you and said he was gay?" the NBC moderator asked Santorum, a father of seven, Sunday morning. "I would love him as much as I did the second before he said it, and I would try to do everything I can do to be as good a father to him as possible,"he responded. Santorum stoked the issue on Friday when he suggested to students at a private New Hampshire school, some of whom reportedly had gay parents, according to AFP, that they would be better off with a father in prison than having a gay dad.

 

Rick Perry Would Send Troops Back to Iraq
Perhaps exemplifying his biggest disconnect from the other candidates on the GOP debate stage, Rick Perry said Saturday night that, as president, he would send troops back into Iraq. The statement failed to provoke any excitement from the audience or the other candidates. Asked whether he agrees with Perry, Gingrich simply replied, "Well, no..."

 

Ron Paul Calls Gingrich a "Chicken Hawk"
In a rare act of mudslinging by Ron Paul, the Texas representative denounced Newt Gingrich as a "chicken hawk" who avoided military service during the Vietnam War. Gingrich shot back, "Dr. Paul has a long history of saying things that are inaccurate and false. The fact is, I never asked for deferment. I was married with a child. ...And I personally resent the kind of comments and aspersions he routinely makes without accurate information and then just slurs people with."

"When I was drafted, I was married and had two kids, and I went," Paul quipped.

 

Rick Perry Says Obama is a Socialist
"I make a very proud statement and a fact that we have a president that's a socialist," Perry said during Sunday morning's debate, in response to a question about whether he agrees with a 2011 editorial by John McCain that said Obama should not be attacked as having un-American values. This isn't the first time Perry has stated he believes Obama is a socialist; in November Perry's campaign ran a 30-second ad saying "Obama's socialist policies are bankrupting America. We must stop him now."

 

Mitt Romney: "I Was Happy Ted Kennedy Had to Take a Mortgage Out"
Romney -- by far the richest candidate in the running for the Republican nomination -- brought up his wealth again during NBC's debate. When referencing his original run for office against the late Senator Ted Kennedy in 1994, Romney essentially said he was happy his opponent could not keep up with his spending. "When I saw Ted Kennedy running virtually unopposed, a man who I thought by virtue of the policies of the liberal welfare state had created a permanent underclass in America, I said, 'Somebody has to run against him,'" Romney said. "I happened to have been wise enough to realize I did not have a ghost of a chance of beating him. ...I told my partners in my firm, 'I will be back in six months--don't take my chair.' But I was happy he had to take a mortgage out on his house to ultimately defeat me."

 

Gingrich Zings Romney: "Drop the Pious Baloney"
Romney said during Sunday morning's debate that he "longs for a day" when people stop going to Washington forever and become "career politicians." Gingrich wasted no time knocking him down, stating perhaps the most memorable line of the debate. "Can we drop the pious baloney," he said. "The fact is, you ran in '94 and lost, and that's why you weren't serving with Santorum. ...You have been running consistently for years and years and years, so this idea that suddenly 'citizenship' showed up in your mind? Just level with the American people: You've been running at least since the 1990s!" 

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