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Should debate audiences be allowed to react?
January 26th, 2012
05:00 PM ET

Should debate audiences be allowed to react?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As the Republican candidates get ready for yet another face-off in Florida for tonight's CNN debate, there's a growing focus on what happens offstage during these events.

A piece in The New York Times asks if the news media have been creating too raucous an atmosphere by encouraging audiences to react, in order to create better television.

There's no question these debates are more lively when the audience reacts - from applause to cheers and boos. But the reaction from audience members who are partisan toward one candidate or another can distort the impression the viewer at home might otherwise get.

Newt Gingrich made a stink earlier this week after NBC's Florida debate, since moderator Brian Williams asked the audience to hold their applause until the commercial breaks.

Gingrich threatened not to participate in future debates if the audiences can't react. Picking on one of his favorite targets, the media, Gingrich said NBC's rules stepped on free speech.

But then Gingrich feeds off rowdy audiences, and they helped propel him in back-to-back knockout debate performances in South Carolina last week. Some even suggest Gingrich was off his game Monday night because the crowd wasn't allowed to respond to his zingers.

Well, Gingrich won't have to worry about that tonight. The audience at CNN's debate will be allowed to express their reactions, as long as they're respectful.
However, should Gingrich go on to win his party's nomination, he'll have to settle for debates versus President Obama without any applause.

According to the rules set by the commission on presidential debates, those audiences must remain silent.

Here’s my question to you: Should debate audiences be allowed to react?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election
Is it good or bad that Newt Gingrich makes establishment Republicans nervous?
January 26th, 2012
04:00 PM ET

Is it good or bad that Newt Gingrich makes establishment Republicans nervous?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

Newt Gingrich is sending chills down the spines of establishment Republicans, and it's positively entertaining to watch.

These Republicans say things like it would be "a disaster" if he's the nominee, "There's a reason most people who know him best aren't supporting him" and "Newt means losing 45 states."

They say they're worried Gingrich would bring back the erratic, chaotic and crazy leadership from his time as House Speaker.

What's more, many worry that Gingrich at the top of the ticket would drag down Republican candidates for the House and Senate. In a nutshell, they don't think Gingrich could ever beat President Obama.

So far only 12 sitting Republican lawmakers have backed Gingrich, while more than 60 support Mitt Romney. Many who worry about Gingrich also say they doubt he'll be the party's nominee.

The irony here is that being the anti-establishment candidate could be the best thing Gingrich has going for him. The so-called establishment includes a few hundred of the most powerful and elite Republicans, from lobbyists to senior members of Congress to TV and newspaper pundits.

But Americans are fed up with the political establishment and if the inner circle of Republicans is nervous about Newt, it could actually help him with the average voter. Gingrich also seems to thrive when he's playing the insurgent.

Meanwhile, you can bet the GOP establishment has got a close eye on Florida. They say they're not at DEFCON 5 yet.

But they just might get there if Gingrich wins Florida and presents an even more serious challenge to Romney. I love it.

Here’s my question to you: Is it good or bad that Newt Gingrich makes establishment Republicans nervous?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

FULL POST

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Filed under: 2012 Election • GOP • GOP Ticket • Newt Gingrich • Republican Party • Republicans