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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?

Ann in South Carolina:
Audience reaction allows those of us watching on TV at home to sense how the candidates’ comments are being received, which can be helpful. It is like reading letters to the editor or comments on this blog, allowing us the opportunity to learn from other people's opinions – as long as we use the information to form our own opinions. Also, let's face it, the CNN debate in South Carolina was a lot more fun to watch than NBC's debate.

Tim:
I don't have a problem with applause. But when they start screaming and booing like it's a football game, I think it's over the line.

Cary:
Having this many debates reduces it to a sideshow. Considering the crop of candidates, maybe freak show is closer to the mark. The first step to legitimizing the debates would be reducing the number of them. The second would be discouraging audience reactions. By doing things the way they have it's turned the Presidential race into a reality show. All they need is Simon Cowell and to rename the debates "American's Got Political Talent". Instead of a record deal they win four years as President.

Randy:
Yes, with rotten tomatoes.

Doug:
The debates are not about the crowds. There shouldn't even be a studio audience there.

Dennis in Florida:
Jack, This question seems insane. Why have an audience if they can’t react? Why do you think they have live audiences for sit-coms? So that real people can laugh at the clowns. Is a political debate any different?

Posted by
Filed under: 2012 Election
soundoff (317 Responses)
  1. Pete in Georgia

    The best way to answer this question is, ask yourself what audiences do at any other stand up comedy events ???

    January 26, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  2. Brig

    No, its not a pep rally. If Newt needs to build his ego he should hold a pep rally prior to the debates, what is he going to do as president in a White House press conference have the press clap each time he makes a point?

    He is just trying to create a distraction for the press to focus on instead of his past personal and professional wrong doings.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm |
  3. John from Alabama

    Jack: Debates are broadcast on TV; therefore, time is very important. Audiences should not be allowed to react to questions or answers to questions. America does not want to hear what the audiences thinks or does not think, but rather America wants to hear what the candidates think. Audiences reaction might make for good drama, but it cuts into the time allowed to answer questions. There will be enough fireworks from the candidates without an audiences adding to the debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  4. Elizabeth From Toronto

    That's the best part!

    January 26, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  5. Kevin SD CA

    Absolutely! I have been at Public News Forums Sponsored by KPBS where one of the producers of the Forum sat beside me and verbally and physically intimidated me because he didn’t like my point of view!

    The interaction between the audience and the debate is crucial to the real tone of our Republic!

    The reason the media wants to sensor the audience’s response is so they can control the tone and direction of the argument! Controlling the tone and direction of the audience is equal to a dictatorship! The media has no right to kick people out of the public square for any reason.

    What ever happened to free and fair public discourse? Most these present day politicians would be Tar and Feathered if it wasn’t for the Police Union bullies intimidating individuals in public meeting places!

    January 26, 2012 at 1:30 pm |
  6. Dennis in Florida

    Jack, this question seems insane. Why have an audience if they can’t react? Why do you think they have live audiences for sit-coms? So that real people can laugh at the clowns. Is a political debate any different?

    ***********************************

    January 26, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  7. Mel - Houston

    Well, Jack, there is this free speech thing in our Constitution that should be honored. That said maybe the emcee of the debate should make a request at the beginning of the debate for the audience to withold their comments/reactions until after the debate and explaining that there will be a period of audience rebuttal after the debate has ended.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:35 pm |
  8. Jim, Denver CO

    Jack,
    It isn't a question of should the audience be allowed to react or not. It is how they react and what to that is the real question. It worries me as a moderate person that the vitriol being slung around and applauded to in the debates. Civility and respect for your fellow citizen seems to have left the building with the audiences.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:36 pm |
  9. occupyhistoryus

    Yes. BEFORE the debate. To suggest structures and process and working models that create productive agreement and take pressure off the time constrained media and politicians and policy-makers. The questions we're seeing and the answers we're hearing are under-informed and too self important. Very little of value for troubleshooting and problem solving and reorganizing effort around outcomes instead of partisanship. One America, right? America has smart, talented, caring people, including experts in everyday negotiation and business building and relationship building. Every day they create loyalty, not bloodless transactions. Just like 50 years ago. America also has wonderful storytellers and creative folks who are so good they don't change the meaning of words or shift their principles and values to succeed. If invited, they could rapidly help the politicians connect effectively with a broader audience without looking so shifty and dodgy. Boston, MA

    January 26, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  10. Ken from Pinon Hills, California

    I think the debate would be better with a media audience only. The audience reaction must have an affect on TV viewers just like the canned laughter does on sitcoms today . We are goosed by previously recorded laugh tracks,even though the comedy lines aren't all that funny. The point is, better we don't get persuaded by the audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:40 pm |
  11. Bill of New Mexico

    No!

    Applause takes up valuable time.

    Booing is disruptive of the thought process.

    A question shouted from the audience is not audible on the TV.

    No!

    January 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  12. Pat, Twin Falls, Idaho

    Absolutely, they vote too!!

    January 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  13. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    As long as there are politicians there will be disingenuous actions such as audience tampering which will indeed take away from a true debate of ideals and integrity.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm |
  14. Herman Portland OR

    Yes, Why have an audience? To have an audience that shows up not to applaud or react to the person that has the floor is a form of censorship. The reaction from the audience shows haw passionate they are for leadership and the importance of the issues.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
  15. Larry in Houston

    Jack, I'll be watching the debate tonight, hopefully it will be like "The Thrilla in Jacksonville" instead of manilla. Hopefully John King won't "tick-off" anyone, because we don't want anyone to 'implode'
    Now to Your Q.
    Should debate audiences be allowed to react ?
    I wouldn't think so – but what can they do about it ? Are they going to put a 'muzzle' on everyone that comes in ?
    I mean, all the Boos & all the hollering, isn't very respectable, if you know what I mean. This is a debate for the highest office in the land, Jack. It's not like being at a sports stadium, or a football game.

    Larry in Houston

    January 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  16. Doug Ericson

    The debates are not about the crowds. There shouldn't even be a studio audience there. Doug

    January 26, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
  17. tom bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    No. These money-is-no-object anonymously funded campaigns hire plants. They strategically place themselves in the audience and cheer, or jeer on cue. They are like the soundtrack in a movie. They tell us who the bad guys are. They initiate standing ovations and they cheer wildly for nonsensical statements. Senator Sanders is right about getting money out of the greatest show on Earth. Let statements stand without accompaniment, or rim shots.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:51 pm |
  18. Bob D Iowa

    It is a distraction and waste time but I guess the whole thing is a circus so that's what the show is all about you pay your money to watch them dance a little faster.

    January 26, 2012 at 1:52 pm |
  19. Randy

    Yes, with rotten tomatoes.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
  20. MNResident

    It depends upon how the auditence is selected. If the audience is 'hand picked" by the network or a particular campaign, then no. However, if they are truly a random sample of Americans, then most certainly yes......

    January 26, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  21. Karl in Flint

    Why not? It's always fun to watch the FOX Fools making even bigger fools of themselves. The epitome so far has been the disrespectful reaction to the gay soldier in Iraq, asking a question, at a debate. That was a great learning experience. It showed the true mentality and lack of respect by the GOP/Tea Party Christians. It showed me why they love Newt so much.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  22. METALWORKER

    No. This is not a circus, rock concert. or comedy show. No audience partisipation needed, it is a bebate.
    If the debaters need encouragement from an audience. If they do they are not presadential mt.

    These debates are getting way out of hand. METALWORKER in IL

    January 26, 2012 at 2:12 pm |
  23. Chris

    Debate audiences are often asked to restrict applause until the conclusion. However, in a political debate, the audience is there to learn about candidates, and they are more or less a spectator sport these days. f they approve of something that is said, they ought be allowed to express that. I'll never forget Lloyd Bentsen's famous comment in 1988, "...Senator, I knew Jack Kennedy, and you are no Jack Kennedy..." and it drew thunderous applause. The crowd participation is partly why we watch them, and from which CNN derives some of its ratings : -) Let the noise continue!

    January 26, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
  24. Ann from Charleston SC

    Audience reaction allows those of us watching on TV at home to sense how the candidates comments are being recieved, which can be helpful. It is like reading letters to the editor or comments on this blog, allowing us the opportunity to learn from other people's opinion – as long as we use the information to form our own opinions. Also, let's face it, the CNN debate in South Carolina was a lot more fun to watch than NBC's debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
  25. Evinia Bruce

    NO WAY!!,,these so-called debates are not episodes of the Jerry Springer show ...the future of the U.S and the desperate American people is at stake ..although the past audience's reaction to the gay solder and the uninsured accident victim gave the viewers an insight into the character and morals of the Republican voters .appalling ..and rightfully so ..
    Never the less the "herd mentality" of the uninformed public can be swayed by these rabble rousers ..as Newt so masterfully manipulated them into thinking he is a viable candidate for the POFTUS!! ..RIDICULOUS!!!....B.C.Canada

    January 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  26. Peggy Ehrhardt, Washingtobn, DC

    Definitely NOT! CNN certainly must have noted how the audience at the John King debate skewed the outcome. Not the "who wion, or who lost?" outcome, but rather dropping what should be an intellectual experience, a give and take on ideas, to the level of an emotional, almosr rabble rousing hysteria! These four candidates are there for ALL Floridians, and all of us, to hear, not there for the sole entertainment of the few thousand who were able to get tickets. My rights and the candidfates rights to fair interpretation should not be violated again tonight.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  27. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    If you want to have a debate then audiences should not be allowed to participate with booing, applauding or yelling. I am watching to get the opinion of the candidates, not the opinion of the audience. But on the other hand if you want a reality show, and up the ratings, then you should announce this show was filmed in front of a live audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
  28. Noel Sivertson New Mexico

    There should be no audiences at the debates. We never hear what we should from the candidates because the audience members are usually firendly partisans who the candidates play up to instead focusing on the debate questions and answering questions for the entire electorate, not just those sitting in the audience. An audience just makes the debates another meaningless, substanceless reality show.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm |
  29. Remi Obiajunwa

    Not while the moderator is speaking – otherwise hell yes! A candidate deserves immediate feedback, especially on all of those bogus promises and often extremist agendas. If you don't want to hear the audience, why have them? We might as well have the candidates mail in their manifestos and find out in Nov how we decide!

    January 26, 2012 at 2:43 pm |
  30. Andre R. Newcomb

    If they have no problem with the longest day taking it to the limit . . . one more time . . . borne to lose . . . then they probably should "Shut up!"

    January 26, 2012 at 2:46 pm |
  31. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Gingrich does better if there is a mob egging him on, which tells you all you need to know about him. I don't care what the GOP does, as when they go all Westboro on a gay soldier, it shows the rest of the country what we're dealing with, but silence should be maintained in the debates in October.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:49 pm |
  32. Steve, Clifton, Virginia

    The rules of the debate should be those of the sponsor of the debate and not the candidates! With Gingrich and Romney there is a good chance that they will flip flop on this issue should the audience reactions/outcome result in unfavorable consequences for either of them tonight.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
  33. Vinny in Connecticut

    Of course, the audience should be allowed to react! The totally corrupt, biased, Obama loving media is scared to death after Gingrich's 'beat down' on John King and the 'mainstream media' that they will do anything to stop these anti media reactions. Even if the moderators tell the audience it cannot react, the audience will. We, as Americans, still have the right to free speech, although we are in danger of losing that right more and more with the Obama administration.

    There is a 'revolution' brewing in our Nation and it's not those anarchist 'Occupy' crowd, but the average, patriotic, God loving Americans throughout our country. Enough is enough!

    January 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  34. Tom in Desoto, Tx

    What? spontaneity? What's wrong with the current format of all questions submitted in advance and 30 to 60 second answers and responses. It's obvious voters don't want to be bothered with facts and any bumper stick platitude will do.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  35. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    I think it depends what the people running the debate want.

    IF they want "Amarican Idol" style "entertainment", then YES the crowd cheering, booing, hooting and hollaring DOES add to the "drame" BUT IF you want to find out the candidates positions and get a feel for how they might actually run the country if elected, then NO because the crowd interrupting is just a distraction.

    and as for "The audience at cnn's debate will be allowed to react – as long as they're respectful", WHEN have ANY of these Republican debate crowds been "RESPECTFUL"? they have shouted down ANY position they disagree with.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:53 pm |
  36. Bernie

    In Chicago, Illinois!!!
    NO, because all it does is promote group think. Let people make up their own minds without being swayed. If it makes the debate too boring for you, then you probably shouldn't be watching it anyways because you are a moron who does not focus on issues. Another reason you don't want applause is that it leaves time for rebuttals and adds more time to the debate. Not that the moderators ever ask anything relevant. In the last debate, Gingrich and Romney needed a few seconds to think of the spin to put on their answers, allowing applause gives them more time to think of how they are going to answer the question, it's unfair in reality.

    January 26, 2012 at 2:57 pm |
  37. Michael, from Smiths, Alabama

    Why does Gingrich blame the media for setting the ground rules during televised debates. The media networks make the call, and if Gingrich is so biased on the media, perhaps he should just refrain from participating in them until he issues an apology. It's not the media's place to judge, and I have yet to see any news networks, other than perhaps FOXNews-already a den of Republican socialism-actually pass judgement on any of the candidiates. If the audience is asked not to applaud until a commercial break, then Gingrich needs to respect the media and accept the terms, or just drop out of the race and go home.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
  38. Kim , Dodge City, Ks

    Audiences should be banned from debates. They can watch a big screen in another room and visit with their favorite debaters afterward. People have become far to rude and inconsiderate, and most of the audiences are stacked in favor of a particular agenda to begin with. But since these don't really qualify as classical debates, more like circus side shows, then they will probably continue in their degenerate format. I would much prefer that all candidates were all brought before a judge, put on a witness stand, sworn in and questioned by an impartial prosecuter. There would no doubt be alot of candidates envoking their fifth ammendment rights.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
  39. Bert from L.A.

    Hi Jack, Yes, the live GOP reaction to Newt’s standup performance provides more than entertainment to home viewers; it is a reality-check as to who these people are.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm |
  40. Bernie

    THERE IS NO WAY THEY SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO APPLAUD because some debates are just stacked with the candidates think tanks and boot lickers.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
  41. Loren

    Circuses and bread, that's what the debates now epresent. Our politicians are now pretending to be gladiators in the Colosseum, pretending their opponents are lions they are sent to slay. No, these are not gladitorial contests, they are debates and while traditions vary, there is no audience in the White House when decisions are being made, and I would rather see that they are calm under pressure and don't need the reassurance of the mob to think clearly or wisely.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
  42. Zack Jones

    Their should be be minimal crowd noise in during the debates. It's a debate, not a college football game, audiences at home need to be able to decide for themselves who's winning. -Zack, New York

    January 26, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
  43. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    When audiences see political consultants invited or paid to consult on politics and as adversaries they rudely raise their voices and "step on" the mike of the person speaking it sets a very bad example for the youth and public in general, that should not be tolerated. Those who do it should be advised it may cause them loss of the airtime privilege. Anyway, I think many people tune out when the pundits cannot wait their turn.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
  44. Jeff In Minnesota

    I think the audiences need to be quiet. Newt appears to do well because he panders to those he speaks. I think he knows that without the audience reaction he'll get caught pandering and the jig will be up.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  45. Ed from California

    Jack, the studio audience is hand picked anyway. Their are Noot's people. Willard's folks, My crazy Uncle's relatives and his Holyness' disciples. So, you really don't have, just plain people that just show up. Can you imagine the chaos that would go in there,if they allowed anyone in there? As it is now with the audience hooting and hollering just shows the world and, for us sane people of just how out of control the Koch Party really is. The Republican debate is really a commercial for Prozac or Wellbutrin, they all need to be on it, or doubling their doses.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:22 pm |
  46. Denny H

    WHO cares. I think the debates are ridculous anyway. If you get a poor moderator it can sway the entire debate. I will watch wet paint dry rather than watch a debate

    January 26, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
  47. Matt from CT

    Of couse, it's part of our first amendment right to show some verbal approval or disapproval.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm |
  48. Maslov

    Yes shut the audience up. Let the candidates go at it without time limits

    January 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  49. Snoqueen

    Debate audiences should not be allowed to react. The debates, as I understand them, are supposed to be information forums and not pep rallies.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
  50. Merrilou Neigenfind

    Their applause emphasizes the fact that manners seem to be obsolete in our society today. Looking forward to the debates with President Obama as he is an adult.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  51. Not Likely

    Election season is enough of a circus already without the candidates explicitly demanding a circus-like audience. Gingrich has risen to the top of the GOP crop by bashing the media at every possible opportunity. This plays well with the AM radio audience who are constantly warned about the "lamestream media." The rest of America prefers a rational and respectful debate – without cheerleaders.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  52. bud rupert

    Sure why not. Adds a little suspense to the otherwise boring affair. The networks and cable stations go to the expense of putting on these " dog and pony shows " so they might as well do what they can to boost ratings.

    Isn't that what it's all about? Be as entertaining as possible to get and keep as many eyeballs on the screen as you can.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  53. Sheldon, Deloraine, Manitoba, Canada

    React yes. Act like buffoons, or trained seals of the candidate, no. No wonder there is little civility in politics, when even a must be conducted like a sporting event. It is a long way from "root, root, root for the home team" and "if they don't win its a shame". Today every moment in politics is a life and death, and for some, not even literally.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
  54. Tim Powell

    Yes! How else would we know that Republicans support allowing people without healthcare to die, or have no respect for members of the military if they are gay? The rest of America is getting an excellent look at the extreme policies of this party. Without their enthusiastic responses we would never know that the candidates' views resonate as well as they do with this group.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  55. Jo An

    Keep them quiet...at least not like a boxing match!!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  56. Sheldon, Deloraine, Manitoba, Canada

    React yes. Act like buffoons, or trained seals of the candidate, no. No wonder there is little civility in politics, when even a debate must be conducted like a sporting event. It is a long way from "root, root, root for the home team" and "if they don't win its a shame". Today every moment in politics is a life and death, and for some, not even literally.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:33 pm |
  57. andy Lynn, MA

    Nope. They should be placed in straight jackets and gagged.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  58. Tom

    It would be better all around if they didn't allow the candidate to speak, forget the audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  59. Howard in Alexandria

    Jack, it's a Presidential Debate, not not a wrestling match. It's supposed to educate the viewer, not entertain him. If the audience at a debate can't behave in a civil manner, then how in blazes can we expect our Congress to do so?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  60. Jon

    Newt Gingrich supports whatever position is in his interests at the moment, even if he contradicts himself over time. That is the only "principle" he understands.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  61. Ari3s

    Absolutely not. As evidenced by past debates, the audience is likely full of idiots. I want to watch a debate when the candidates need express their personal views and not pander to the audience. I am not watching to be entertained, I am watching to decide who to throw my vote behind. Gingrich is a fraud and without the audience to help cover up that particular fact with their overwhelming noise making ability, others would see that as well. I want to watch a debate where the candidates make the noise, not the audience. Besides, if this continues, how long till we hear "Give him the chair!" or "Ohhhhhhhhh" like in the WWE or Jerry Springer?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:35 pm |
  62. Vanessya Fountain

    Yes, audiences should be able to react to the candidates; however, it should be in a respectful manner and should not be a prolonged response so that it doesn't interfere with the overall tone of the debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  63. Linda from Kentucky

    Sure they should, Jack. Although, if I was allowed to react at a Republican debate with this line-up, I would need a couple of props: shoes for throwing and a barf bag for throwing up.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  64. Bob Klepak - Conyers, GA

    Unless Henny Youngman is debating Don Rickles, the Audience should not be a factor. We deserve better than to pick a nominee or a President on his comedy writers, don't we?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  65. Pat in IL

    Reactions from the audience are a distraction, taking up extra time and downgrading the debate arena into a circus. The debates should be for information, not entertainment.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  66. Kelvin

    Audiences at Presidential Debates, be they primary or general election, should remain silent and respectful until commercial breaks, when they can applaud if they choose. Debates are serious business, not reality TV or a circus, and it should be considered a privilege to be in the audience, not an invitation to disrupt or cheerlead. The audiences at some GOP debates were shameful as they cheered for allowing the uninsured to die and booed gay soldiers. It demeans the process and distorts the picture to have underinformed, partisan "fans" of candidates become part of the focus, which properly should rest exclusively on the candidates and their statements of position and answers to questions. Bravo Brian Williams, and to CNN and other sponsors I say go ahead and call Gingrich's bluff.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  67. Pat in Michigan

    sure why not? I think it is hilarious though. Gingrich is one smooth salesman giving the reactionaries what they want to hear.
    Who else was it that used to whip the crowds into a frenzy like that?It wil come to me in a minute!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  68. Andrew Carlile

    Jack,

    It depends. Early debates probably need audience reaction or it wouldn't be interesting. But when it gets down to the last couple of candidates, it really matters that the men (unfortunately no women) have to carry themselves and not be propelled by a roudy crowd.

    Andrew

    Salt Lake City, UT

    January 26, 2012 at 3:37 pm |
  69. Marsha in IN

    I think audience take up too much time and less time on the debate. I think one candidate can control the audience and take away from the other candidates. I think it is very fair to wait until the debate is over. You should show respect to all candidates.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  70. rick

    If the debate is a fair representation of all the candidates, then I'm sure the tv audience would not mind.
    A equal time balanced opinion from each candidate is required, or your credibilty is a question.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  71. Charlie

    To a degree, Yes. The CNN debate in South Carolina showed us when audience participation overshadows the actual issues. Newt blames media for asking about what his ex-wife said on televison and gets a standing ovation. Debates should be about who has the best ideas, not who can make people yell and scream louder.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  72. George

    They should be allowed to boo Newt back into the shadows where he belongs....

    January 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  73. Cary

    Having this many debates reduces it to a sideshow. Considering the crop of candidates maybe freak show is closer to the mark, although the freakiest have dropped out. The first step to legitimizing the debates would be reducing the number of debates. The second would be discouraging audience reactions. By doing things they way they have it's turned the Presidential race into a reality show. All they need is Simon Cowell and to rename the debates "American's Got Political Talent". Instead of a record deal they win four years as President.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  74. Dave, Orlando, FL

    If not allowing them to react in any other way than with dignity and respect will keep Gingrich (and other slime balls) from participating, then, yes, I’m all for it.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  75. Mitch

    While it may create more exciting television, raucous debate audiences distract from the content of the debaters remarks, particularly for the home audience. Primary debates would be more useful to undecided voters if they followed the same standards as presidential debates. I thought the recent CNN & FOX debates that I've watched came across more like the Jerry Springer show or Oprah than a debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  76. Joe

    Of course they should be. People are allowed to expressive themselves. It forces a candidate to react to public opinion right then and there. What's the point of even having an audience if they aren't allowed to have some input?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  77. Murray Sherman

    I've got a better idea. require the candidates during debates to be silent. This will both raise the level of intelligence and lower the level of dishonesty.

    (Chicago, Illinois)

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  78. Pete from Florida

    Since a majority of voters seem to be ignorant, uninformed, gullible idiots who base their political preferences mainly on misleading and often completely untrue 5-second soundbites from candidates and like-minded media and supporters, I'd say NO. Applaud politely, but otherwise keep your mouth shut so the viewers at home can make up their own minds about the candidates' remarks. Presidenrial debates don't allow audience foolishness for good reason.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  79. Jeff from CO

    Are these supposed to be debates or reality television shows? The line needs to be drawn somewhere, regardless of what benefits one candidate.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  80. steve

    Audiences should be quiet so everyone can respect the answers. Rowdy audiences are disrespectful of the office their pursuing and are rude.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  81. Tim

    I don't have a problem with applause. But when they start screaming and booing like it's a football game, I think it's over the line.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  82. Tom

    Jack, I'm sure the moderators dislike it because it disrupts their carefully crafted flow for the debate. But, audience response tends to fire up the candidates and makes for a much livelier debate. Yea, let 'em clap. Maybe then it won't be as much of a snooze-fest as the last one was.

    Tom, Florida

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  83. ddblah

    You are welcome to withdraw from a debate if you don't like the format.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  84. René

    No, they shouldn't. The focus should be on the candidates, their ideas and how they come across when they debate with the other candidates. Every candidate should have a fair chance and the atmosphere in which they get that chance should be equal to every single one of them. The first and foremost task of media is to report as objectively as possible. How can you be certain that the crowd in the room is a representation of the electorate and isn't pro-one of the candidates which automatically gives the other candidates a disadvantage. The one instance the crowd can have their say is when they vote. Those are the rules of the game.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  85. Morningstar

    Audience participation takes away from the purpose of the debate and brings in an unnecessary distraction unworthy of the process. Leave the audience participation to the town hall meetings. Personally, I will not waste my time watching the circus show tonight. When a debate is "just a debate", I will tune in. It keeps the focus on the issues.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  86. Tina Texas

    The audience is not going to see a concert. They need to hold their applause till after the circus is over. It makes the debates drag out and I am there to hear what the candiate has to say not the uproar from the peanut section.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  87. Mark

    My concern with audience reaction is that a candidate might fill the room with audience members he knows can out yell and out applause supporters of other candidates, Using an applausometer to select the next President, what a concept.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
  88. tommy mack

    If a candidate relies on audience reaction to make a point, then it's obvious his ideas aren't strong enough on their own merit. Why are we dumbing down the political process even further? What's next? Elections at wrestling matches or, god forbid, American Presidential Idol?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  89. Charles Bowen

    God forbid we Republicants should hear a different point of view. No Compromise, No Election . Its about the Nation ,and All the People, Not the Party, Not Jesus or any Religious Fundementalism . Republican = Obstructionist.. Makes me very sad to see how Low my Republican Party Has Fallen Charles Bowen Solomon Stone

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  90. Keith in SoJax

    My reaction to the audience outbursts has distanced me from the candidates that seem to vie for that kind of attention. I'm an independent leaning Democratic these days. When the Republican crowd booed the "Golden Rule", that was it for me. I quit watching.....

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  91. realist

    no they should not.long live dictatorship

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  92. Gary Mason

    It's a good question Jack, but a better one might be why you keep referring to these things as "debates". They are nothing like a real debate. Every network and their brother has their own version where questions are raised, but answers seldom follow.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  93. Marc Daniels

    I have firsthand experience dialoging with Newt Gingrich in townhall meetings, debates and Republican dinners. Even with Mr. Gingrich specifically asked the cameras to focus in on what I was saying, nothing got reported. Jack, my old Clive, IA neighbor, unfortunately this includes CNN. If you want honest reporting, audience participation reflections how well the candidate rally the grass roots as well as honest feedback.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
  94. Sterling

    I prefer no audience even be there. Let the craziness go on at their house or a bar. Let the candidates make their comments and be heard. Too often a candidate is trying to talk and you can't hear what is said because of the noise of the crowd or there are long pauses waiting for the crowd to settle down. If Newt wants to sell his snakeoil to the raucous masses, let him do it on the street corner.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  95. David

    yes, they should be allowed to react. however, the people also need to be smart enough to take it into context.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  96. JP

    I say keep 'em quiet ... the less we hear out of Newt's mouth, the better. On a more serious note, it will also allow us to fully listen to and make our own minds on the candidates, not just how well they can play to a crowd. Playing to a crowd is great for speeches, but it says nothing on how someone can run a country! Especially Newt ... anyone with half a brain knows he will destroy this country. Yea SC ... I am talking to you ..........

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  97. David

    Last week's Republican debate was the most informative and substantive so far because the four candidates were able to discuss their policies, while allowing the viewing and listening audience, (and perhaps those present in the auditorium) to judge those policies, without being distracted, or influenced by the audience's reaction. These should be serious discussions about policies and ideas.

    Speaker Gingrich framed this as denying the audience their free speech rights. What about the right of the people watching or listening to the debates? Why waste their time with audience interruptions? Why deny them their right to the information, the solutions to our nations problems that each candidate wants to offer? Simply look back to your days as a college professor. Would you said your student has the free speech right to interrupt you lectures, or presentations with catcalls, hoots and hollers? I don’t think so.

    No one in the audience is running for president. I don't care what the audience thinks. I want to be able to make my own judgments without being distracted by their input.

    Frankly, the game show atmosphere that's been prevalent in the previous debates has only cheapened the process of selecting a Republican Presidential nominee. It robs all the candidates on stage of time that could be used to adequately lay out their ideas. Audience participation should be banished from all future debates.

    Let silence rule.

    David R.
    Los Angeles, Ca.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  98. Pete from Florida

    Let me guess, right-wing whacko's, Tea Partiers, and all others who act like human stun-grenades but have little facts or common sense, will all vote for LOTS of audience participation. Normal folks would rather hear what the candidates have to say.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  99. Peter

    Applause only. Catcalls and booing, especially at a question (!!) is unacceptable. "Let him die!" and the booing of a gay soldier was some of the worst behavior I have ever seen at a debate. This is not the WWF, although that's what I thought I was watching during the South Carolina debate!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  100. My name is Jose Jimenez

    No Jack. To maintain some decorum, the candidates seeking their parties nomination should not be allowed to actively participate during the debate if that is what you prefer to call them.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
  101. Jonas Bro

    No, the audience should remain respectfully quiet and allow the choice of words by the candidates hammer home their points. We're not electing the next American Idol, or cheering for a staged fight on Jerry Springer. These are hard times, have people been working for peanuts for so long that we now chose presidents by the applause in the peanut gallery?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  102. Pete from Florida

    Too much "audience participation" is how the Affordable Care Act got so screwed up.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:43 pm |
  103. Southern Lady

    Earlier participation by the Republican audiences has not been positive to the TV viewers – example: the booing of a soldier, in uniform, when he asked about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and "Should a man should be left to die if he did not have medical insurance" and the audience said "yes." But, this is cat-nip for the likes of candidate Gingrich, a man without class or manners. This kind of behavior shows the television audience how the once-proud Republican party has fallen and is hardly recognized as the proud organization that it once was. Gingrich's perfect pick for VP should be Sarah Palin – two of a kind.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  104. Louise

    Can't believe you are even asking this question. Since when, in this country, do we ever debate whether to silence freedom of speech and expression. Whether it is a debate audience, Teaparty or Occupy Wall Street expression. The fact that CNN is actually asking this question is evidence that our constitution is under siege in this administration.

    Louise
    Atlanta

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  105. George Laurie

    No. It will cause too much confusion. The debates will end up sounding like a high school pep rally.
    George
    Dover, New Jersey

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  106. TJ

    east Lyme CT Do you think the audience was quiet at the Lincoln/Douglas debates? I think most debates of old were more like the Prime Ministers question hour in Britain where anything goes

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  107. Andrew

    The audience should react, they should feel free to say anything that's on their mind. Weather they agree with the politician or not. How dare that some of these politicians do not want to hear the audience, even more so when the audience disagrees with the politicians!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  108. Kevin

    No. The audience should not be part of the debate. The loudest "spectators" are usually the most dense and obnoxious in the crowd, and they reflect badly on the Republican party. These are the same people that booed one of our servicemen, booed the golden rule, and cheered on a serial adulterer for calling the media "despicable" for bringing it up.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  109. Nfranco

    Newt thrives on rowdy crowds because he gets away with ridiculous statements and any attempt to get him to explain his lies and sweeping generalizations is drowned out by the raucous crowd who dont care if what he is saying is right, wrong, correct, ignorant, or thoughtful. From the beginning of these debates he has been king of the brash and unfounded which plays well into the hands of many of his supporters who dont let facts and truth get in the way of their beliefs. Newt face-planted on Monday because he actually had to string together sentences and was forced to try and back up his pathetically unfounded generalizations. So congrats Newt on, again, bullying your way to a position of advantage, and continue to allow your masses to eclipse reason and thoughts.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  110. Donna Wisconsin

    Absolutely! It is very discourteous to react, especially negatively. That's why people think it's ok to heckle the President when he makes a speech. Disrespectful to everyone but mostly to the person speaking. Manners–where have they gone?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  111. Ben

    Jack...clearly Newt wants to hide his real facts because applause. If the audience is quiet, then voters will be able to hear his true positions. I guess he needs the frat boy pat on the back from his supporters to gauge which way to turn next...and cant be a bully qith the quiet.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  112. Stephanie Ates

    For someone with a narcissistic personality,like Newt Gingrich and Obama, I suppose that they do love audience participation, as long as it is in their favor. As soon as someone boos them,you will see the anger come out. If they could all be as smart and humble as Ron Paul, too bad he is not given as much time in the debates,then maybe people could make their own minds up based on what the candidates are actually saying, and not who gives the biggest applause line

    January 26, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  113. jeremy

    No people shouldn't be encouraged to respond. This is a political debate not a football game. People should be listening to political ideals and policy initiatives, not cheering on zingers as if this was some type of comedy roast. The behavior of the audience thus far has been abhorrent

    January 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  114. Tim Clark

    I think the crowd should stuff it and let the debate proceed without partisans making a racket. I can decide if I like what a candidate has to say for myself without being "guided" by the media or audience at one of these debates. I am with NBC on this one even though I seldom watch any news from NBC and watch CNN every day.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  115. Mitt Rob-Me

    Having audiences react to debates turns them into spectacles.There are too many debates and they have just turned into a forum for personal attacks and mud slinging. You could learn more about the candidate from their web page.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  116. David

    Of course an audience should be allowed to react-respectfully -I wouild like to know tho that the audience is not packed with a particular candidates fan's-that they are evenly divided on who might be best -or that they are all undecided.

    The ogject of the debate is reaction-ultimastely in the form of a VOTE!!!!!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
  117. Ed from MD

    Yes let them react. If a voter is so easily swayed by the reaction from a crowd the safest place for them is there with the lemmings.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  118. Harry Baxter

    After watching Romney, Gingrich and Santorum spout their nonsense, lies, balony and verbal diarrhea, they should keep the Debaters quiet. The only candidate that makes any sense and doesn't slander the other candidates is Ron Paul, and I disagree with half of his policies.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  119. Val

    Bosie, Idaho

    I don't favor crowd reaction during the debates. The debates should be point-counterpoint with serious consideration to the answers, not one line zingers that would be heard in a sitcom. The purpose of these debates is to help determine, potentially, a future President of The United States of America. Accordingly, they should should rise above the level of high school popularity contests.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  120. Venturer

    It only matters if the audience majority favors one candidate. Then, like a home team, they can shout down the opposition.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
  121. DrD

    Why is there a need for an audience? Why can't the public just watch the debates on TV? These are not debates; these are cheap theatrical performaces. That's why these actors look so fake.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  122. Susan

    No, I think they should stay quiet so as not to waste time having to wait for the audience to finish with there 15 seconds of fame. It's a total waste of time and I also believe it's disrespectful towards the person talking.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  123. glorydays

    Yes, even though Newt feeds off the gutter, this barbaric behavior simply adds more clowns to the circus, and I never cared for clowns.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  124. Ubaid Seth

    I liked the format of the last debate. I don't think the audiences should react. Majority of the audiences are emotionally immature Republicans - ex. booing the gay soldier, booing Ron Paul when he proposed peace with other nations, yelling out "let them die" when discussing heath care. Of course Gingrich wants audience reaction since he panders to them with slick and deceptive 1 liners. I could tell at the last debate he kept trying to get a reaction with what he thought were "smart" comments but ended up looking like an idiot.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm |
  125. communist

    I think Hitler would agree.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  126. steve

    I absolutely think they should be able to react. Myself as a viewer wants to see how everyone reacts. If i think Newt says something great that i agree with, i'm hoping the audience gives great feedback as well. It goes both ways though. If Newt says something out of line and deserves to be boo'd a little bit, that's great too. This is America. We should be able to express our feelings within a controlled manner.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  127. David from Webster, NY

    If people are worried about audience reactions, then just fill the audience with deaf mutes!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  128. Pete

    If Gingrich has to rely upon raucus reaction from the audience, then that speaks volumes about the vapidity of his campaign. If folks want a circus, they should go to a circus and not a debate that should be sober and informative.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
  129. Jonathan

    No, when did debates become football games or the audience become the same people that attend American Idol?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  130. LA Belle

    It's more important to hear the candidate's ranting, raving and saying they did things that they didn't do.

    The millions of dollars spent on these campaigns should be used to reduce the debt, since that's all we have been hearing from the Repulican Congress. Misguided power and money, by arrogant politicians and their rich friends, is the evil that is taking our country on a one-way trip; and the majority of Americans will refuse to get onboard or comply with the hypocrisy.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  131. Clint

    The debates are not about who can yell the loudest for their candidate. They are about the greater public learning more about the candidates.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  132. Roger

    As long as Gingrich is talking, you don't have to create better television. Gingrich, Sarah Palin, the Kardashians, standup comedians, all need to heard!!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  133. Ken

    Audience participation is not the point of a debate. It's to listen to and understand the positions each candidate holds and how articulate they are. Audience participation does nothing to facilitate that purpose. In fact, from the gist of the article, it appears that it muddies the water and colors the tone of the debate in ways that are not useful. At least not to those who are genuinely interested in trying to understand which candidate is the best for this country.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:50 pm |
  134. Mike Mc

    I say let them hoot and holler about letting people die for lack of healthcare and rejection of the golden rule. Let the world see what kind of idiots these people really are.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  135. Greg B.

    Newt needs that wrestling match mentality in the room to get his shallow points accross....he relies on ignorance to succeed....if he wins the nomination....Obama will crush him in the debates and in the election.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  136. Mark

    Personally, I can't stand the audiences they've had so far...disrespectful, rude, arrogant, even creepy. On the other hand, the offer a good barometer of who I *wont* vote for.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
  137. rudeboygi

    as ed bradley said any person seeking to hold the office of the president of the USA, sould remain quite.. this is the most powerful office in the world...not some college debate...serious

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  138. Andre Robatino

    Better question: why does there need to be an audience?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  139. Dan Arka

    Yes, the debate audience needs to be quieted because the applause is extremely biased and isn't actually a debate. There is not applause or cheers in a real debate, I know, I used to do tournament debate. If CNN allows cheering tonight I will have officially lost any, if at all, respect for CNN. I want to hear their ideas, not how juicy the red meat their throwing out is. Please, for the sake of intelligence and a love of country, give all candidates equal time, I don't want to hear another stupid, concocted argument between Gingrich and Romney.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  140. Dave, Leicester, NY

    Debate audiences should remain silent, boos or applause may encourage candidates to show boat on an issue rather than give a thoughtful opinion, or conversely may inhibit a candidates response depriving the voter with insight into their position.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  141. Brian McGonagle

    Allowing or disallowing an audience from boos or applause has nothing to do with freedom of speech/expression. Just as I don't need pre-recorded laughing bits in sitcoms to tell me when to laugh I also don't need a debate audience to notify me if a presidential candidate's answer to a question is sufficient or not. We've been nurturing a society of people who are easily influenced through popular opinion rather than individual rational reasoning. Its only through individual reasoning that we can maintain a free and prosperous society. Our highest office should be treated with respect and not like some VH1 reality show; but then again maybe I overestimate my fellow Americans and perhaps our society's attention span needs interruptions in the form of boos and applause in order for us to pay attention. The problem is that the attention payed is at the mercy of those who decide to cheer or ridicule. I for one choose silence with reasoning!

    -BRian

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  142. Ed

    Audience reaction does make for better television and in Ron Paul's case before the SC primary, it gave him a chance to give his view on abortion. That aside the audience cheering and booing is much like the laugh tracks in corny sitcom making them look funny and clever when they weren't. Same applies here.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  143. Bertomus

    It depends on the audience. For a lot of these Republican debates we've had audience members cheering for executions, war, and letting uninsured Americans suffer. The audience has a lot of closed-minded hateful people that only know the rhetoric of their party and can't think outside the box. They will continue to cheer at inappropriate times for inappropriate things. On the other hand it does underscore how bizarre Republican supports are.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
  144. Dean

    No way Jack. They lost that opportunity when they booed the Golden Rule. I don't know how much sillier these audience can get.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  145. Vito

    If the rules of a presidential debate can silence an audience then obviously it's not trumpimg free speech. A "planted" audience for either candidate can grossly sway the home audience. If a candidate zings it's for me to decide whether it was warranted instead. Newt trying to showboat.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  146. Brad

    Candidates should rise or fall on their own words, without adding the "special effect" of studio audience response. Why give a small number of locals more power to validate a candidate than those watching at home nationwide?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  147. Christine

    Newt Gingrich is a sideshow. I guess a Jerry Springer audience would work well for him since he likes to feed off the crowd's reactions – especially praise of his points. It just confirms my suspicions that this entire exercise is meant to stroke his gigantic ego.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  148. Name*John Intrieri

    Of course. This will assure Gingrich gets nominated. The real Republican power brokers are terrified of this outcome.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  149. ralph marano, NC

    If the debates were held in the Roman Coliseum, that would make good TV, at the end of the evening Wolf, could give a thumbs or thumbs down to each debater, then the loser would be banished, to Crawford Texas.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  150. Mike

    Yes, the crowd should remain quiet. Newt created a mob mentality by attacking the press, and won the debate doing so. It's interesting to now hear that he lied when he said he tried to offer witnesses to ABC to refute the claims of his former wife. He should have had to answer the question.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:54 pm |
  151. Greg Smith

    No, the audience should not react. The physical audience is but a very small part of the audience watching and are a local group. They should be quiet so as not to influence the much larger television audience. Allowing the audience to react also serves to provide an incentive to the debaters to pander to the physical audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  152. Keith, CA

    It is either a serious debate about policies, or a TV entertainment show. When you look at the backdrops behind many of these debates, it is clear the hosting media wants to make them TV entertainment shows just like everything else on the TV. Frankly for an honest debate on policies there is no need for any audience at all. Commercial breaks during a serious part of our democracy? Really? Is the debate a just reason for selling products? If we took our democracy seriously instead of pretending its a football game, we'd have PBS host the debate without commercials on a set with no audience and moderators from each of the major media outlets asking questions.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  153. Tom

    I think audiences should be silent and respectful. Some candidates don't get to finish their thoughts when interrupted by reaction that is too early. Someone may have a controversial point and then they don't get the chance to explain it because the audience is too loud.

    Have the debate, let people make up their own minds.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  154. Matt

    I don't see why they shouldn't be able too. If it wasn't for the audience, Ron Paul would have been ignored during the last CNN debate. More power to them.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  155. Kevin

    Oh God, where do I begin? Dear Liberal Media: You already have nearly total control of public discourse. Now you want to quash peoples capacity to respond during a debate? For about the 10th time this week, shame on you.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  156. Alberto A. Pena

    Houston, TX

    The debate is for the candidates, not the audience. I do not want to hear the audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:55 pm |
  157. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Yes, but with some respect. This really isn't a boxing match and booing should be left to the sporting events. We have become a very rude society and it is showing in the behaviors of young people as the example they get is from so called adults.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  158. Anna Roche

    NO the debate audience should not be allowed to react. The debaters are playing off of the audience . . .just actors on the stage. Without the 'crowds' roar the debaters must stand on their own two feet . . . I think we (THE PEOPLE) get a better view of who they are and what they stand for without the sound bites!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  159. Pat

    Audiences reaction distorts the responses from the candidates. As part of the television audience, I find audience responses during debates, for the most part, rude and disrespectful. More often than not, audience response is in reaction to a "zinger", and we in the television audience really don't want to have our personal opinions perverted by it. It is enough for us all to weigh the substance of the candidates' answers. In this political landscape, the candidates will play to the live audience by coming up with more "zingers", and we will be left with fewer concrete plans and policies from the candidates.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  160. Larry of Boston

    Absoultely keep them quiet. We are not picking a game show host here. Let;s not let a few boisterous staffers and hand pick people run the show. There are a couple of hundred in person, but there are millions watching on TV - -I think the million or so can do without the laughter and applause. If Gingrich wants noise, he can get a comedy gig on NBC late night – around 4 AM – and they will give him his own "APPLAUSE" and "LAUGH" electric sign so he feels good.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  161. Bob

    The audience in a debate should be asked to remain silent during debates. The boos and cheers are distracting and a waste of time. We watch these debates to hear the speakers, NOT the audience. A debate of this caliber is not a three-ring circus or some high school play. These are an important part of our decision making in this country.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  162. ziegfeldf

    No. This is supposed to be serious. It isn't a pep rally or football match. Maybe we want to hear the candidates explain their policies, and not be distracted by all of the whooping and hollering.

    Incidently, Newt needs to read up on the whole "free-speech" thing. His (mis)understanding is shocking coming from someone who thinks he's going to be president.

    Ken
    Sandia Park, New Mexico

    January 26, 2012 at 3:56 pm |
  163. Joe Stampleman

    It's a no-brainer that crowds should be kept silent. A president negotiating with a world leader or other politicians must do so without this, so leaving it out of a debate is the best way to get a sense of how well the candidate might be able to sway people in a negotiating room. Much of Gingrich's zingers of the past week would sound very different without those applause....

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  164. Tom Wojick

    I agree Jack the debate is not world wrestling federation event and the applause and hooting and jeering distorts the seriousness of the conversation. It also continues to breed disrespect and bullying.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  165. Ray

    What? and have the politicians actually debate the issues instead of pandering to the audience? The audience should remain silent until the breaks or end of the debate because all it does is create a distraction and takes time away from the debates. And correct me if I am wrong but unless the taxpayers are footing the whole bill for these debates the free speech issues is a moot point.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  166. Bob sellers

    Yes, the audiences should be silent. The last debate was the best one so far. You can actually hear the nominees positions clear instead of hearing the audience interrupt them with nonsense applause. This debate tonight and future ones should enforce no applause till the end of the debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  167. Bob

    The audience in a debate should be asked to remain silent during debates. The boos and cheers are distracting and a waste of time. We watch these debates to hear the speakers, NOT the audience. A debate of this caliber is not a three-ring circus or some high school play. These are an important part of our decision making in this country. Columbia, South Carolina

    January 26, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  168. Vito - Houston

    If a presidential debate can legslly silence a crowd then it's not trumpimg free speech.
    An audience can be "planted" by either candidate. Newt wants to showboat instead being a professional. I don't want to heat hoops and hollers as if I was in high school pep rally.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  169. Andy from CT

    Is it a debate to help us decide who the leader of the free world will be, or is it a sports event? What in the world is wrong with civility and class at these things? What has happened in Amercian society that people have to act like soccer hooligans at a presidential debate, and that candidates even encourage it?

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  170. Charlotte

    No, it's very enlightening to the rest of us when the audience boos the golden rule or screams "let him die!" at the hypothetical question of an uninsured person in a critical situation in the hospital. It's good, albeit incredibly depressing, for the voters to know what kind of person each party is pandering to.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  171. Herb Eiseman

    If these debates aren't "packed" by Gingrich supporters, I'll eat my Television set. Secondly, these are debates- not entertainment shows. They're meant to inform the public. Audiences should be quite. Save the cheers for the campaign trail appearances.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  172. Marge in Texas

    I believe the audience should be there only to observe, not participate. Some contestants, such as Gingrich, "perform" for the audience to get a reaction. He loves to rabble rouse the audience by saying whatever it takes to get them to react, regardless of whether or not his response answers the question or whether or not his response is even reasonable. It is easy to be a "community organizer", full of hot air but may or may not be able to do any of the stuff yelled about, just like Obama but this is supposed to be a debate and therefore performances put on solely for the cameras or to get a response from the audience is a distraction of the real issues.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:58 pm |
  173. Mr Fitnezz

    Mr Cafferty, i think you are asking the wrong question, The question should be " Should the question and answer session audiences be allowed to react? , A debate should be about giving concise and valid arguments. I haven't seen that in the republican primary. In any case to answer your question,.... NO!!!

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  174. Don

    What difference does it make? The election is fixed anyway. The establishment and mainstream media chose their candidate before the debates even began.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  175. Larry of Boston

    If the Presidential debates will be silent, the GOP is DUMB to permit a differenrt format for their primaries. If Gingrich is great with noise but horrible when there is silence, we could get the wrong guy. CNN should change its format so it is the same as the Presidential debates -– unless CNN has been given orders by the White House to try to help Newt look better....

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  176. Andy from Lansing, MI

    Of course debate audiences should be allowed to react, as long as that audience is equally divided in favor of all the candidates on stage, not just one or two. If you read transcripts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, you'll notice points at which their audiences cheered or booed.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  177. John

    I'm not interested in other peoples opinions. I can form my own opinions. I want the candidates to devote as much time as possible, telling me what their plans are. Audience rowdiness interrupts that time.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  178. Stan Robinson

    Jack, Jack, Jack..... your question presupposes that these *are* "debates". They're not. They're just "Throw out a question so the contestant can blather on about whatever drivel pops into its head" opportunities. So let the Romans howl all they want. When someone puts on a REAL debate, where the contestants are required to give actual, factual (and one hopes, fact-checked in real time) answers, then run them in a studio without the peanut gallery.

    January 26, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
  179. Ana, Ohio

    Gingrich just want to be mean to the media again and get support from his rowdy audience. Things are too nasty out there. It will be better to have quiet debates.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  180. Elizabeth, Kingston

    Yes! As a non American, audience reaction gives me a window into the thinking of Americans. I hope for more applause/agreement for/with Ron Paul, he is the only sane one. The others want to make war. I want to know that Americans disagree with Romney's position on Cuba, Santorum's stated policy on Iran, Gingrich's moon ambitions. There are so many crazy positions by these candidates that if they are heckled, I will know and rest assured that Americans are not as crazy as these candidates.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  181. JT from SC

    No.

    That being said, we aren't watching debates but a serious of episodes in the latest reality T.V. show: "Survivor: Return to GOP fantasy land". Think about it. They all line up on behind the podiums and every week the audience votes somebody off the stage. All we need now is an immunity challenge and tiki torches. Pass the popcorn, please.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  182. Adam

    I think having the audience hold their applause is a fantastic rule. It gives the candidates more time to speak and less ability to pander to the crowd. The audience reaction creates a sort of issue weather vane, and the lack of it makes the candidates more likely to speak their mind, in my opinion. That lack also helps an observant audience detect when the candidates are truly confident in their answers.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  183. rick atlanta

    Of course. The audience should be allowed to respond...free speech remember. The only thing that I would change about the debates is...no more "gotcha" questions from the media. If the question does not pertain directly about the issues and problems we face, it has no place in the debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  184. Gene Armor

    Only if they choose to do Hamlet or one of Moliere's plays

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  185. Christopher Haines

    No. The audience should not be vocal during the debate. Where do I get to learn about the candidates, directly from the candidates? Through the debates. For most of the country, the debate is the forum in which they learn about the candidate. We have plenty of opportunities to make our voice heard about who we think is the best candidate. Over the water cooler, talk radio, etc... Are we going to start checking candidate affiliation at the door to the debate halls? Are we going to require equal representation. Let the candidates move and uplift us. So we the American people can hope and work for a better tomorrow. We don't need our candidates spouting foolish one-line statements designed to get a crowd off their feet. We need to hear their real ideas and real discusion. I have watched every debate, and the South Carolina debates were a joke. Gingrich will do just fine without the crowd; he has shown that in previous debates. Let the candidates speak.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  186. Kenneth

    This is a presidential debate, not the WWF or a sitcom taping. I guess it would be worse if they had applause signs flashing. If I were to watch, it would be hopefully for information to make an informed decision about the qualifications and positions of the candidates. If I watch an even for entertainment the opinions of others might actually enhance the experience, much like the crowd at a motion picture theater. I don't expect others in the voting booth with me and I don't want their input while assessing my choices at this stage either.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  187. Susan from Madera County, CA

    The purpose of these debates is for the candidates to address television viewing audience concerns; certainly NOT to be used for biased cheerleading practise! If debate hosts can assure the attending audience is comprised equally of supporters for all participants, it would at least even out the adreline ferver we've seen so far. The last thing intelligent voters need is an audience "stacked" for one candidate or another in order to incite distraction from the issues.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  188. JDTucson

    In a word, no. The purpose of televised debates is for the larger audience to gain insight into the opinions, beliefs, depth and breadth of the candidates. Not learn who can get the fringe elements to respond in the most raucous fashion. Although learing which candidates use the platform to pander to the extremist provides a clear warning to moderates so perhaps it is a good thing after all.

    Omaha

    January 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  189. Karen, Idaho

    Let them hoot and holler all they want. It gives the rest of us watching the debates a really good look at the Republican electorate and their narrow minded opinions.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  190. Tony Hamelin from St. Louis, MO

    Yes, Audiences should be able to react...nothing stuck in my debate memory more than the 1988 Vice Presidental Debate zinger..."You're no jack Kennedy". I believe if t was Benson at the top of the president....the Dems would have won!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  191. JT from SC

    *make that "series" not "serious"

    January 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  192. O.D, Arlington,Texas.

    I don't see the point of being cheered by auidience that will eventually boo you when/if you become president. The last debate was awesone...some quietness in the hall please!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
  193. O.D, Arlington,Texas.

    I don't see the point of being cheered by auidience that will eventually boo you when/if you become president. The last debate was awesome...some quietness in the hall please!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  194. Punch

    Jack,

    Ban the cheering and booing. Keep the yawning due to the 75 debates they have to sit through.

    Punch,
    Grand Rapids, MI

    January 26, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
  195. Dan5404

    Jack, Brian Williams did exactly the right thing. It might have been a knock-down-drag-out fight between the two front runners, but it was done with dignified moderation and the absence of a boxing ring atmosphere. Such crowds may be entertaining, but that's not what a presidential debate is about.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  196. Kyle

    No, the audiance should not be allowed to be rowdy. If the crowd is kept silent, like it is supposed to be kept in the 2, at most 3, debates in the general election, then we will be able to actually hear the candidates positions and determine for ourselves what they actually believe, instead of feeding off of a rowdy crowd which may be stacked against one candidate or the other by having their supports put into the audience. I say no crowd involvment makes for a much better debate.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  197. Jim

    As general rule, I think debate audiences should remain quiet. I think this rewards the candidates for focusing on ideas and issues over insults and one-liners.

    Newt's compliant about NBC limiting free-speech is pure nonsense and exposes the weakness of his candidacy. Newt only does well when people react emotionally, not rationally, to his words.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  198. Lee

    I personally don't want to see debates turn into a contest of who can pack more supporters into a room. Televised debates are already to the point where candidates just recite their stump speeches. I'd like to see more back and forth, but with arguments and counter arguments – not just vying for the most applause.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  199. Nick San Diego

    NO NO NO. The back and forth between candidates gets lost . It's just disrupteive.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  200. S. Williams

    Let each debater hand pick an equal number of audience members until the arena is full. Then let the audience react of their own accord. It shouldn't take long for a thrilling brawl to break out and the media will get ratings that are off the charts. I'd call it "Epic, extreme, reality debate challenge."

    January 26, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
  201. Jim from Rochester NY

    As general rule, I think debate audiences should remain quiet. I think this rewards the candidates for focusing on ideas and issues over insults and one-liners.

    Newt's compliant about NBC limiting free-speech is pure nonsense and exposes the weakness of his candidacy. Newt only does well when people react emotionally, not rationally, to his words.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  202. b in fl

    jack, a debate shouldn't include an audience it is about the debaters

    January 26, 2012 at 4:09 pm |
  203. Theresa

    Yes! It felt good to know sitting at home that others (audience) feel the same way as myself on a particular answer. If done respectfully I am for it, and with ALL the debates I have not seen the audience behave irresponsibly/rude!.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  204. usamerica777

    of course why are they there for thier health? let them expresswhats being discussed or your waisting their valuable time and imput otherwise don"t ask their presense be there!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  205. Wilson James

    Newt and his team obviously plant folks in the audience, it was clear he had his team ready for John Kings question the other night. So he wants to influence and cajole using his stuffed audinence. Nothing you wouldn;t expect from this manipulaitve, combative disgrace.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  206. Ann

    Jack, these are NOT debates! They are nothing but shouting matches. If one wants to know what a true debate is, I would suggest that one refer to the Formal Thursday Debates at the Oxford Union, the world's most prestigious debating society. They have been going strong since 1823.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  207. John Rowell

    I think the attempt to silence the audiences at the GOP debates reveals an obvious effort by the media moguls to mute the public's voice in this process. Brian Williams and NBC clearly wanted anything but an open display of support for Gingrich as they hosted the GOP event earlier this week. That goal was made all the more evident by Williams' attempt to bate Romney into an open confrontation with Gingrich that droned on and on to the dismay of the audience and to the exclusion of Santorum and Paul. Williams was not in any way interested in keeping the interaction civil or relevant. I think he did the poorest job to date in the string of debates that has been considerable! The result was a dead and lifeless event – one that should have been embarrassing to NBC and Williams. It was a good reminder of the reason I have long since stopped tuning in to the productions that NBC, CBS, and ABC portray as network news. Give me the cable teams any day! I look forward eagerly to CNN's debate this evening!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  208. Kevin

    Those who are talking about a "free speech" issue need to go back to high school civics class. Woofing like a baboon over a clever reposte at one of these events is not a protected right. Try to walk erect, would'ja?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  209. Travis

    Audience should apsolutely be able to react. It is after all a live, PUBLIC forum that the debates are being held at. What's next? No talking @ a city park or restaurant? If someone doesn't like it, don't go.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  210. John in Medford, NY

    Jack, as long as the media who sponsor these debates have all the screens, external feeds and frenzy of a cock fight why shouldn't the audience be allowed to respond accordingly. These guys aren't putting on the 18th green at the Masters.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  211. Rock Woman, New Mexico

    Depends on whether or not you want people like me to watch. If yes, keep the audience quiet. If no, let them holler, boo, applaud, do break dancing, whatever.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  212. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Why is there an audience anyway?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  213. Alba Gross

    When a candidate makes a particularly devisive comment, such as Ron Paul suggesting that it's OK to let a sick man without insurance die, and the audience cheers, it underlined his true positions on health care. I believe most Americans were shocked. He may have gotten cheers, but I doubt he won votes on the back of those cheers. And when Gingrich got cheers for his answer to John King's question about morality - most of us at home were thinking REALLY? The question wasn't ANYTHING close to as despicable as Gingrich's own actions. Those cheers he got were probably heard with incredulity by the home listeners. At least, I want to believe that most Americans listening are sane and intelligent enough to react that way.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
  214. Mike Tyrrell

    Mike in Great Falls, Virginia.
    No way. When you have one candidate like Gingrich that can gen up the crowd, it turns the debate into a spectable. There's a reason why the presidential debates don't allow the audiences to react. The GOP primary debates should follow the same rules.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  215. Mike M. Scappoose, OR

    they are the 1% who cares what they say, it isn't what they will do any how...

    January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  216. Sunnysmom

    It just sensationalizes the vitriol they spew. It makes me really sad that my fellow Americans would actively cheer hate and discrimination against soldiers that are gay or hypothetical sick kids that should just die if they didn't save their pennies. Clapping is fine, but shut down the snarky yelling from the peanut gallery. It's not censorship, it's called respect.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  217. mbcoh

    Yes, especially amongst this group of jesters. The reaction of the audience helps paint a clearer picture of the true values of these candidates and their supporters.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  218. tampa

    It should belike a theatre. Keep you applause until breaks. Freedom of speech is another example of Newt playing the people.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm |
  219. mannycl

    No, it should not happen at all. It's becoming a Roman circus where Mr.Gingrich can satisfy his TV ego with zingers instead of substance. I applaud NBC for their decision not to do it and it will be an excellent idea for other news networks to follow, but then it wouldn't be a circus.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  220. Ann, Bristol TN

    Keep the audiences quiet. The last debate may have been a bit boring but at least you got to hear their positions without those smirky "gotcha" grins.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  221. Michael Harkins/ Bellevue, WA.

    Yes...Bada Bing!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  222. Patrick Lewis from DC

    In an ideal world, the crowd would be silent. The vast majority of the people watching the event aren't in the crowd and having them react the way they are reacting means the few that get into the audience are skewing the results and possibly flustering the candidates. Then again, we don't live in an ideal world. I don't think it's too much to ask the audience to refrain from boisterous activity, though, and remove anyone who can't live by the rules. Maybe clapping is ok, but verbalization is not. I don't know.

    The sad part is that these debates are turning into pro-wrestling style silliness and it's unbecoming for the GOP.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  223. Chris

    The audience should be allowed to physically interact with the debate participants and moderators.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  224. Cleavette

    Jack, only for Republican dedates. The live audience works extremly well for Stephen Colbert every night. Maybe they should pass out tomatoes to everyone in the audiience and the winner gets to step off stage while the other clowns get pelted with the tomatoes.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  225. tampa

    That's it... the crowd reactions to Newt in SC were like a Springer show.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  226. Brian

    Yes! How gruesome are these "candidates" if their followers publically boo a deployed American soldier and scream "let him die" at a cancer patient? Keep 'em screaming, us sane (and voting) Americans are watching.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
  227. James Wilson

    No, audiences should be able to express themselves. Just make sure those attending have an I.Q. above 50, and are wearing shoes.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  228. nancy

    See, Dennis in Florida, a political debate SHOULDN'T be a sit-com, or a circus, or a comedy act. Sadly, that's the way it usually goes- with participants like Gingrich who feeds off the crowd and encourages them to be even more hateful. He's all about whatever exposure he can get. Just like a spoiled child, he craves even negative attention (but then whines and lashes out about how unfair it is).

    It would be better if the candidates themselves could speak up and discourage the crowd from shouting out hateful and incorrect statements.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  229. martin

    Is the president's state of the union address any less important? Congress is allowed to applaud there. The audience should be allowed to share their approval with applause as well. Or is this another example of Congress living by a set of rules the rest of us can't.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  230. Rick Ledford

    Nope.

    This is a debate, not a barroom argument.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
  231. steve

    Yes-They should-that a part of free speech, and our rights-the Presential debates this fall should also should be changed to allow audience reaction-plus or minus

    January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  232. Mike D R From MN

    Yes. The debate rules are fine just the way they are now. It's let's the viewing public know what kind of audience is at these debates. For example, how many americans will scream out yes when asked if a uninsured person should die? How many americans will openly boo gay soliders?...It's good to know what the base of each party is made up of and how they feel.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  233. Babs

    I even cheer out loud at home! When Newt nails the question it's hard to be quiet! It's been MANY years since we've heard common sense from a candidate. Let everyone cheer. Go Newt!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  234. Lucy, Deer Park WA

    No. The audience reaction should not be a factor. If we want someone who can work a crowd into an emotional froth, let's vote for Brad Pitt. I want the most brilliant, the most thoughtful. -who leads with their mind – who answers big questions with humble genius.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  235. Mark - Northbridge, MA

    Remember the Six Million Dollar Man? Take away the sound track
    and all he's doing is jumping over a puddle. Newt understands that.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  236. Rick Ledford

    Yup.

    You react with your vote..

    January 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  237. David in FL

    Of Course Newt wants to whip the roudy crowd up to a frenzy. I'm not surprised by his statement he stands to gain the most by manipulating the masses. Its his source of courage.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm |
  238. Natalie - Columbus, Ohio

    Sure audiences should be able to show their approval or disapproval-obnoxious is part of the great "American way" afterall! However, were I a Republican candidate I'd be very nervous about what comments might come from my ultraconservative, red necked beer swilling constituency that hasn't yet learned the art of finesse or at least how to properly play the "race card"...The last thing candidates can afford is to have disparaging remarks picked up over the mic as was the case during the first election of President Obama.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  239. NO.

    The whole purpose of these debates is to let the American viewer decide who to support.... Having a rowdy, uniformed, rude, crowd as one's cheerleaders may make for great television... but it only distorts the impressions of viewers.

    Newt and his narcissism needs this kind of contstant ego-inflation. However... this doesn't make it right. Furthermore... if he doen't participate in debates without applause... that is very telling. How can he "debate" with Obama without applause if he is not even willing to do it without applause now on his home turf?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
  240. Mike Ryskamp

    Not being asked to hoot and holler at a presidential primary debate isn't a free speech issue in any way, shape, or form. It's an issue of behaving oneself while at a public event. Being able to attend a debate is a privilege a citizen can only exercise if the debate happens in their hometown, and tainting the general public's perception by allowing rabid partisans to cheer for their particular candidate is damaging to the process as a whole.

    If the debate was held in a national park or another publicly owned facility, then the partisans on the right might have an argument that held water, but as it stands now it's simply the wishes of committed partisans to boost the image of their particular candidate in an unfair and unrepresentative manner.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  241. Marlene, Asheville NC

    In the case of these televised Republican debates, I think the audience should not be allowed to react. Some candidates deliberately couch their responses and comments to manipulate audience participation and reaction. This only contributes to the smoke and mirrors they need to establish erroneous impressions while avoiding actually answering questions in any coherent manner.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:18 pm |
  242. GeneK

    What these "debates" really need is moderators who will hold the participants' feet to the fire, point out when they're not addressing the questions put to them and cut them off when they attempt to present unrelated campaign slogans instead of answers. A team of non-partisan researchers fact-checking the answers in real-time and a big truth-o-meter hanging over the candidates' heads would be good too.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  243. Gary H. Boyd

    Were the audience not allowed to respond, the debates might as well be held in a sound-proff room. REALLY , Jack, , the whole point of a public debate is to get audience reaction whether it be pro or con. So, my answer is a resounding YES Jack.

    Gary in Scottsdale, AZ

    January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  244. FRANK IN LAS VEGAS

    NO. Is this Lets Make Deal? If a candidate has to play to to the audience instead of answer the question then he doesn't really have much to say does he. It's not a sitcom, a game show or a pep rally. It's supposed to be serious exchange of ideas. If a candidate needs his ego stroked he could always bring in a tape recorder with a laugh track and an applause track on it. This is serious stuff in serious times about who should lead our country, not who can get the most reaction from a meter like on the old Arthur Godfry Show.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm |
  245. Locker

    A debate is held to hear the opinions and views of the candidate not to see how loudly they can make their partisan audience scream. If that's what you are looking for you might be able to get a position as a cheerleader.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  246. Julie

    Absolutely not. The point of a candidates' debate is to have an forum for the electorate to hear potential presidential candidates elucidate their philosophy of governing and to assess their fitness for office. The members of the audience should be there as observers and guests, not participants. It's not the Roman Circus for crying out loud. The audience should be quiet, respectful and allow the debate to proceed in manner that fosters a greater understanding of the candidates' grasp of issues.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  247. Batman

    Let's give them helmets, padded vests, and rataan sticks and let them beat the crap out of each other when they disagree. THAt would be great American political debate. And better TV.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:20 pm |
  248. John Lenertz

    Debate audiences should be kept as quiet as congress remains at the State of the Union address.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  249. Paula from Montana

    A few good plants in an audience can bring all the sheep following along. This is how the appluase reactions appeared to me in the South Carolina debate. I think Newtie's "home run" was audience driven. It was really nothing more than forced defensive outrage on his part. Better that debate followers reach their own conclusions than fall in line behind the hucksters.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  250. debra

    Sure they should Jack. It lets us all know how ignorant they are.

    Debra in Phoenix.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:21 pm |
  251. Chris Rand

    Audiences should not react – every candidate should be able to respond fully to a question without taking into consideration whether they will be cheered or booed. Unvarnished answers are what the people watching deserve, with no pandering. As for an audience's right to voice their approval or disapproval – we have audiences during court proceedings and during Congressional sessions, and the audience is not allowed to comment during either of those sessions. A little decorum goes a long way.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  252. Charles Sawyer

    As in congressional debates where the chamber spectators are to be silent, so it should be in these debates. With no audience interruptions, more issues could be discussed.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  253. Robot

    Yes, not only should the audience be allowed to applaud, they should ask the questions as well, they ask far more pertinent questions than the drive-through media.
    When a candidate can sense the sentiment of an audience, they can really tap into that, and use what's working to hammer their point home.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  254. TigerLily194

    NO ......... too often the applause gets in the way of the answer. I can not hear the full answer. Any debate should be a solume on so that each participant can express his answer without interference from anyone. THIS IS NOT A PEP RALLY.......... if they want to meet and listen to their canidate. go to a meet and greet they conduct..... but leave the serious debates to silence

    January 26, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
  255. nolibs

    This guy is such a liar and media control freak...people should be able to or express their feeling and I hope the audience tonight tell the liberal control freak moderator(s) to stick it and do what they want...not be controlled...

    January 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  256. Lou Berman

    Now Jack, the Three Stooges never had a laugh track, but it was hard to hold back the laughter. Now, we have the Four Stooges, and we can't even applaud? Honestly, I think these clowns deserve at least some canned laughter.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  257. Norman Schmidt

    The people will eventually be heard when they vote. There is not reason to stop them frombeing heard during the process and debates. Let the people jusge and not the news media.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  258. Jeff in San Diego

    Without the audience reactions for these GOP debates, we never would have learned that Republicans hate the Golden Rule, cheer when a person dies without health insurance and really cheer at the thought of going to war with Iran. These debates are a perfect chance to talk with our children about morality and why some people have none.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:23 pm |
  259. Zack M., Orange Park, FL

    Audiences should not be allowed at any debate. I don't care if it's Republican or Democrat. They are a distraction and make it that much more painful to watch. In this age of electronic media, those who wish to watch the debate can do so at home or wherever they choose. But the only people who should be able to attend a debate are the candidates, the moderator, and those affiliated with the production staff and facility.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  260. Terry

    Why are you worried about the audiences when you do not even give equal time to the candidates to respond to questions. And I will go one step further, why do you not asks for their plan to correct the so called Presidents failures. And finally, what not call out the candidate on their false/misleading statements. This would be a first for the news orgs.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  261. ithink122

    "Should debate audiences be allowed to react?"

    No, it promotes a mob mentality and distorts the viewers perception of the events. When you don't allow the audience to react to every little comment, it forces the viewers to make up their own minds about what was said and not be swayed by the audience reaction. Candidates should be able to stand on the power of their ideas, not the volume of their supporters. These are supposed to be serious intellectual debates. Treating them like game shows, daytime talk shows or spectator sports takes the intelligence aspect right out of them.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  262. John from Tennessee

    Ofcourse they should allow public reaction . If for no other reason so we know how others feel about each answer... After all isnt an election about what people want rather than what media personel want you to hear ?

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  263. Stephen Evans

    One piece of information that is gained from audience reaction is the character of candidates' supporters. The audience booing of Ron Paul's invocation of the Golden Rule in foreign policy told us a bit about themselves. The booing of the audience over Mitt Romney's Mexican heritage told us a bit more. The audiences have also booed a gay soldier and cheered child labor. Those insights expose much about candidates and where their support lies.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  264. Burbank from CA

    Newt's a narcissist and a big time childish whiner. He's in his 70's and still expects the whole world to treat him just like his adoring Mommy did and cater to his every selfish whim. Let's call his whiny bluff and have him not show up for these debates, he will just be shooting himself in the foot. We dont' need someone so emotionally immature with his hand on that red phone! Smart does not equal wisdom!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
  265. Ron Bowie

    The audience should be able to react – respectfully. Their reaction might direct the moderator to go in a direction the PEOPLE want to go rather than just the preconcevied direction the political analysts wanted to go. If an idea gets a reaction, then that idea is important to the audience which should be representative of the electorate!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  266. OBDAG63, Appleton, WI

    Personally, I believe it's best when audiences are not allowed to react to comments made during the debate. Lately I have become so irritated by fan noise during broadcast NFL games there have been times I turn them off. Tough luck sponsors. The purpose of the debate is clear to me. I noticed well how Rep Bohner went out of his way not to display any emotion during the State of the Union address on Tuesday night. He acted as if he were a statue, not even close to being a human.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  267. Loretta Nall

    I wish the audience would be silent. This isn't a football game for crying out loud. This is a critical time in our nations history and the cheering, hissing and booing lowers the standards for constructive political dialogue. And Newt is such a whiner. If he can't have mob mentality from the audience he will just take his toys and go home. Oh, if only he would follow through on that threat ...

    January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  268. Alex

    How a debate audience reacts shows how ignorant and disrespectful this country is as a whole.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  269. Chris

    I think it should be the same as the Presidential Debates – a silent audience. I want to hear what the candidates say – rather than hear the stupid reaction of people in the room.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
  270. Mark in Tulsa, OK

    Jim in Denver has a valid point. Fact is, we should want an audience involved, but the intelligence of those applauding some of the racist and vitriolic rhetoric "passing" as platitudes leaves much to be desired. It would certainly be a better debate if the attending audience were not operatives of participating candidates, unfortunately in this election cycle the GOP candidate field is of the Ringling Brothers, Barnum & Bailey variety.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  271. JB from Nashville

    Of course the audience should be permitted to clap, boo, and give standing ovations! Who wants a group of silent
    Zombies!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  272. Sandstone.

    "I really can't add to this one, Jack? I suppose it all depends on what's said on the stage floor? "

    January 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  273. Chuck

    Absolutely!! I think the viewing public should get an earful when these "gentlemen" pander to their base by proposing to bash one minority or another, or feed the rich with more tax relief, or advocate reduction in Social Security, Medicare, and any of the other programs these guys want to "use" to "fix" the economic mess they and Dubya got us into to begin with. Let them cheer for dirty water, air you can see, and cribs that kill babies. The public has every right to see who really supports these guys so they'll know what their votes will actually get them..

    January 26, 2012 at 4:26 pm |
  274. Jenna Roseville CA

    Should debate audiences be allowed to react?

    NO!

    The last debate was great because we didn't have all the interruptions, you could hear what the candidates had to say, it stayed on time, and there was no distractions.

    Candidates that need that must not be very sure of their message they are delivering. Who needs a president that needs constant reassuance like a child learning something new or constant praise when not earned?

    There really is no reason to have auditoriums for debates. They can occur in a television studio – on air for all to see.

    I hope that CNN will "contain" their crowd tonight – otherwise I am turning the channel.

    Jenna
    Roseville CA

    January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  275. Joe Meyers

    As long as the audience is not made up of plants by better organized candidates, yes they should be allowed to react within reason. Seeing how the candidates respond to those unscripted audience reactions is important in analyzing leadership and character. Without it the entire debate is just canned answers to questions the candidates have heard before.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  276. reckoner

    I'm still nauseous from the heartless and soul-less applause, yells, and reactions from the audience during the tea party debate...

    January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  277. Dan Bednarik

    Jack – NO!! Keep them feisty like the Brits do in Parliament. Then, the candidates can get the public's temperature straight away!

    January 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm |
  278. Kyle Irvine, CA

    Yes Jack,
    Otherwise you'll never hear what the candidates have to say.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  279. MikeyZ

    I would go one step further: remove the audience entirely.

    Some time during the Reagan administration, and progressively worsening with each election cycle, debates started losing the assertive-yet-quiet-and-civilized decorum they once carried. Candidates stopped speaking to viewers at home, and started pandering to the audience, presumably figuring out that the audience's favorable reaction engendered herd mentality with the viewers at home.

    Debate audiences are deeply partisan to begin with, not only in terms of their politics but in their preferred candidates. As such, they feed voraciously off of sound bites, one-liners and personal attacks, rewarding their candidates with applause and cheering. And the issues that matter to the American people continue to go unmentioned.

    I'm confident that the candidates pad their ticket allocations with paid supporters, so the audiences are not about to stop cheering. Candidates won't stop pandering to the audiences because of the visceral response their reactions invoke with home viewers. Therefore, the audience cannot be trusted to remain silent, even if you tell them to.

    The press in general, and CNN in particular, can continue to feed Americans bread and circuses, as usual, or they can cut this travesty of political process off at the knees and insist that candidates be held accountable issues that really matter to the public. The audience gets in the way of that process. So remove it.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  280. Chris from Mississippi

    Apparently Newt needs a crowd in order to be a master debater. As they say "Two's a crowd"

    January 26, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  281. Tom from Virginia

    Without some audience reactions, the debates would look more like a game show format. And we'll see if the Presidential debates remain silent from either the right or left extremists in an audience.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  282. M.A.

    An equally relevant observation is the role arguing and attacks amongst candidates which inevitably garners attention among candidates. Those whom are participating less as a consequence are consequently least engaged in the debate. Arguments and attacks directed toward candidates isn't conducive to engagement if other candidates aren't offensive and/or aren't being given "attention" by other participants.

    If you are attacked, you are the recipient of rebuttal time. If you are a candidate doing the attacking, you're likely to be rewarded by that action and you also likely will have opportune time for "rebuttals".

    I would like to see more discussion, less arguing and more equal time for ALL candidates to participate. And while debates are an opportunity for the public to get to know the candidates, they can become excessive. I'd like to see slightly fewer debates, more quality debating and increased time for responses during at least some of the debates.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  283. Mr D

    What they need at the debates is a puking bucket. We have seen/heard the canidates adnauseam. I don't know about you, but the only noise I make when Newt speaks is a retching sound.

    January 26, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  284. Kevin Costello

    Of course they should. Why not let the audience react to something they like or don't like to hear. It gives the campaigns an idea if the Republican audience likes their position on something or don't. It also gives the viewer at home, like my-self, an idea of what other Republicans are thinking about the candidate. Plus it's funny when the audience gets mad.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  285. Kathy

    YES, the audience should react in the debates! Did they ever make the people be quiet when obambam talks? I always hear clapping and yelling when he talks, no matter how STUPID it is !!!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  286. Ericka from Idaho

    If the presidential debate does not allow for audience participation then why should the GOP debates be an exception. If Gingrich, who clearly opposes the silence, is touting that he will easily out debate President Obama this fall but then fails to perform well during the attacks from Mitt Romney on Monday nights' past debate without his "cheerleaders" in the crowd then how can we take his claims seriously of out debating Obama?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  287. Kate

    Perhaps it is the GOP debaters who have pointed out the failings of each of the potential nominees and done the President's job for him who should should be quiet.

    Kate
    Tampa, FLA

    January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  288. Greg Turman

    Jack;

    I did not watch president Obama's campaign speech,,,,er',,,,, state of the union address the other night. Bet there was a lot of crowd reaction. Why should the republican debates be any different?
    Can I get an Amen brother? Hallelujah !!!!!!!!
    Gregory Turman
    Noonday, Texas

    January 26, 2012 at 5:13 pm |
  289. david

    yes they should it is the freedom of speech we have here

    January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  290. Ed in California

    Yes if you are in attendance at a debate, but I warn that it may be costly to do so that home. I got so upset watching the first televised Republican debate that I threw a show at the living room tv and breaking it. During the last televised debate I broke the bedroom tv with my other shoe.

    Having exhausted our supply of working tv's we were watching the State of the Union address at my neighbors house when I got so upset they had to tie my shoe laces together and duct tape my hands to the couch.

    This public reaction bit to politics can be costly both in terms of electronic equipment and friendships!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:14 pm |
  291. Rose TN

    Yes – keep them coming! They've been quite enlightening – letting the country see just how sick the GOP base is (booing a gay soldier, cheering to let a sick man w/o insurance die, etc.).

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  292. David Mississippi Gulf Coast

    Maybe the should do these debates without an audience. Maybe it would make it possible to get a bit more substance out of the candidates rather than pandering to their particular supporters.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  293. spockmonster

    Just as in Presidential debates, the audience should not be allowed to react. Otherwise, the vocal extremists will whoop and holler and try to shape the debate fort heir own. Otherwise it becomes sensationalism. Whoop Whoop Whoop! Oh No He Din't! It just figures that it is the GOP that wants to base the debate on audience hollering. The GOP is the most base, uneducated, divise party imaginable.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  294. Terry

    Absolutely I think they SHOULD be allowed to react. To me, it says something about the party when the Tea Party hosts a debate and because someone doesn't have insurance Ron Paul thinks they should not be treated and allowed to die and the audience APPLAUDS. It tells me that I don't want to have anything to do with that candidate or that party.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  295. mike from iowa

    Just as in Presidential debates, the audience should not be allowed to react. Otherwise, the vocal extremists will whoop and holler and try to shape the debate fort heir own. Otherwise it becomes sensationalism. Whoop Whoop Whoop! It just figures that it is the GOP that wants to base the debate on audience hollering. The GOP is the most base, uneducated, divise party imaginable.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:17 pm |
  296. Eric Ennis

    No, not the wright for the people at home. Ron Paul!!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:19 pm |
  297. s roberts

    YES! Let the audience sound off. A growing number of us find these debates entertaining. This is TV entertainment at its best. I want to hear the audience cheers and boos.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  298. Jon in Tempe, Arizona

    I would say in the interest of consistency that they should not be allowed to. They are not allowed to in the general election debates so they should not be allowed to here. Also, I feel that when they start to cheer and jeer that it lowers the dignity of the debate to become theatrical politics. We have way too much theatrics in politics these days.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:20 pm |
  299. Dave in San Jose

    Last I checked we still have freedom of speech, peaceful protest and assembly. OF COURSE the audience should be allowed to react, after all this is a debate between candidates to be our president. The real question should be: Should audiences be prohibited from reacting?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  300. Ed in Los Angeles

    Debate audiences in most forums do not allow for the audience to be vocal during a debate. Debates are meant to be free discussions about differences of ideas and opinions, not gladiator spectacles.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  301. mike from iowa

    Just as in Presidential debates, the audience should not be allowed to react. Otherwise, the vocal extremists will hoot and holler and try to shape the debate for their own. It degrades into sensationalism. It just figures that it is the GOP that wants to base the debate on audience hooting and hollering. The GOP is the most base, uneducated, divise party imaginable. I'm not a Democrat either, so don't accuse me of beling a liberal just because I don't praise the GOP.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  302. Nicole

    According to Newt they should be. He has to be "hyped" up. What a pathetic loser

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  303. Chuck

    Yes, eggs, cabbage, tomatoes, anything throw able!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  304. Tom-S. Illinois

    Hope they don't pick up the laughing that you hear in my household. Obama won last time because of the void in the field. Surely as large as this country is, the choice could be better.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  305. Jeanette

    Jack, No, I want to hear where the candidates stand on issues not the audience. I would like to make up my own mind not what a majority of that perticuliar audience feels. This is not a wrestling match or is it?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  306. BP - Seattle

    No Jack, they shouldn't. We want someone who can win against Obama and not someone who just knows how to work the audience. During the South Caroline debate, my friends and I disagreed 100% with the audience and it felt distorting that they were able to affect the outcome of the debates.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  307. gerry m.

    YES – audience should be aloud to respectfully applaud. No hooting or yelling, but showing agreement through applauds should be allowed.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  308. David Hricik

    First, because CNN is not part of the government, it can "make" the audience be quiet without violating anyone's First Amendment rights. That applies to the government, not private companies. So, and Gingrich knows this, CNN is free to do what it deems best. In my view, allowing audience reaction waters down what are already nearly-trite answers into zingers and snide comments design more to get a reaction than provide substance. Quiet, please on the set....

    January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  309. Joe A.

    So long as the audience is a cross section of American citizens who are real voters (not just bystanders or nonvoters in an election), allowing audience reaction is fine.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:22 pm |
  310. Reason

    My understanding is that NBC, not the federal government, hosted the debate and invited the candidates, who could have accepted or declined to participate after being given the format and rules. No one was arrested, fined, or otherwise penalized for speaking out against our current president. So how does Gingrich raise the "free speech" issue?

    January 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  311. Namedave

    let them talk tea party is loud all the time try to keep them quiet

    January 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  312. Marc chenail

    The audience should not be allowed to react at debates. It contributes to candidates using one liner sound bites rather than thought out answers that would provide insight to voters needed to make an informed decision.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  313. PJ

    The clapping and other audience reactions are just a distraction. This is not entertainment, it is a debate to try to become our next president. I don't want a president who needs an audience, I want a president who actually cares about the American people, our country and our world.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:23 pm |
  314. Mike from Calgary

    With the NBC Sleeper debate on Monday, don't need to watch it, just get a transcript or put it on an hour later – it helps put people to sleep.
    CNN debates are more like a town hall meeting, with the most knowledgeable host to steer the debate, to draw out the debaters so that we not only get their answer ... but also get to learn their temperment. CNN debates are beyond compare!

    January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  315. Ed Fertik

    It's hard to understand how you could even ask this question with a straight face. The blatantly liberal and biased media should have no control over audience 'reaction". The media doesn't control its own reaction to events involving Republicans although they certainly do when it comes to Obama. The media in this country is made up of huge corporations who have voluntarily become administration hacks who will do anything to get Obama a win. Why would any Republican or Independent want CNN to tell people how to "react" . New York

    January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  316. Carolynn

    Absolutely not. That just makes it like some kind of street rally rather than an informative debate.
    In a true debate (such as the eventual ones with Pres. Obama) the audience must remain silent.
    This should hold true for all debates – some things just should not be changed to appease the rowdy followers of any candidate. It's a time waster and a hugh distraction from the comments.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
  317. Lizzy10

    You have only to look to the English Parliament to see how much fun government could be. Let 'em cheer or boo as they see fit.

    January 26, 2012 at 5:24 pm |