When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?
November 22nd, 2011
04:00 PM ET

When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

As Newt Gingrich continues his meteoric rise in the polls, there's one key issue that could hold him back: Character. Or will it?

A new Quinnipiac Poll shows the former House Speaker scores higher than Mitt Romney on most key leadership traits - except for personal character.

For example: Republican voters say Newt Gingrich is a stronger leader than Romney - by 34% to 24%.

They say he's stronger on foreign policy... 46% to 16%.

And they say Gingrich has the right "knowledge and experience" to be president - by 48% to 22%. These are huge margins.

But Gingrich trails Romney 32% to 9% when it comes to who has a "strong moral character."

A lot of that likely goes back to Gingrich's personal baggage, including his three marriages and his infidelity.

Overall, Gingrich places at the top of the Republican pack in this survey, with 26% compared to Romney's 22%. In a head-to-head match-up, Gingrich does even better, topping Romney by 10 points.

But it might not matter. Even though Republicans find Gingrich competent and ready to deal with the nation's problems, they worry about his character.

And this is at least part of the reason why: By a double-digit margin, Republicans say Romney has the best chance of beating President Obama; and by an overwhelming margin, they say Romney is most likely to be the Republican nominee.

It's interesting that at a time when our nation is facing a boatload of very serious problems - from the national debt to the economy, unemployment, ongoing wars, etc. - a lot of people are more hung up on personal character than about the ability to lead.

Here’s my question to you: When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

The ability to solve problems. Nothing else matters. This is not the Miss America contest.

Dea in Fayetteville, North Carolina:
I'd choose character over ability, because ability based on lies, manipulations, and backroom deals is not worth the price we pay in the end.

Emmett in Mobile, Alabama:
Dear Jack, Solving problems is more important. Richard Nixon would make a better president than most of the characters who want to be president now. America has too many idealistic, political morons who are ruining this country! Where is Theodore Roosevelt when we need him?

Bradley in Philadelphia:
Without personal character, people try to appear to solve problems by looking good rather than doing good. And that does no good at all.

Well, Obama's star quality and personal character got him elected and look at where we are today. He's in way over his head. We need a problem solver in 2012.

Sylvia in San Diego:
The ability to solve the country’s problems by far outweighs personal character. Do you think that Kennedy or Clinton with their "personal baggage" would get elected today? Bottom line, I am tired of incompetence. We need someone in the White House who can run a country.

This is a "he can't walk and chew gum at the same time" question. History is filled with ruthless thugs who "made the trains run on time", and with "nice incompetents". Why can't we have both, for once?

soundoff (177 Responses)
  1. JD in NH

    If you don't have character you can't possibly understand the problems that need to be solved.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  2. jen -sseattle

    Solving countries problems not trying to prove that the individual president knows how to use and abuse the accoutrements of power while his policies devour and sour at the hour of need.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
  3. Doug Lacy

    Whether it is the President of the United States of America or the night supervisor at the local mill, an individual with fortifying character can solve problems big and small. As far as our country's problems, it requires a majority of strong characters and I daresay Congress falls a bit short.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
  4. Clephas from Austin, TX

    The ability to solve problems. Character – as long as they aren't a sociopath like Cheney or a mental incompetent like Bush – will always come second.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:12 pm |
  5. Emmett m. Smith

    Dear Jack,
    solving problems is more important. Richard Nixon would make a better president than most of the characters who want to be president now. America has too many idealistic, political morons who are ruining this country! Where is Theodore Roosevelt when we need him?
    Emmett Smith
    Mobile, Alabama

    November 22, 2011 at 1:14 pm |
  6. jen -sseattle

    we need proper policy to solve countries crises not a bourgosie and vanity plated lifestyle squandering intelligent progress for the digress of throwing partyies and drinking on the job and using our tax dollars to vacation as if on official business

    November 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
  7. s in fl

    Those 2 qualities actually being equally important, solving the country's problems is a group effort. No one man can solve them all. But the one thing a President does all alone is stand as the face of our people and leader of the free world. I think character is by far the most important thing in that area.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
  8. Annie, Atlanta

    The ability to solve our problems would be second on my list, because there are two other branches, which in normal circumstances would be working for the good of the country. These aren't normal circumstances. However, an ability to have a vision to guide us into the future, resisting the urge for instant results, would be number one, for me, and that involves personal character.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
  9. andyz Lynn, MA

    Honesty, honor, integrity and loyalty are the qualities I want in a president. Problem solving can be left to cabinet members and advisers. I seem to remember a Republican president that I am sure could not find his way out of a White House men's room without "Darth" Cheney's assistance.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  10. John from Alabama

    Jack: Good character is a nice thing to have, but solving the nation's problems is much better. Being President of the United States is a cool job to have, but there are alot things that effect job performance. President Clinton job performance was enhanced by the dot com revolution, and President Reagan's job performance was enhanced by low gasoline prices or at least stable prices. There are many outside factors affecting job performance and solving problems.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  11. Ed from MD

    Im pretty sure there not going to solve the countries problems so gimme some personal character. If they can get that right maybe they can solve the countries problems.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
  12. Bradley

    Without personal character, people try to appear to solve problems by looking good rather than doing good, Ad that does no good at all.

    Philadelphia, PA

    November 22, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
  13. Bill T

    How can you be a good President if you're a scumbag in your personal life and unable/unwilling to answer questions that are asked of you?The American people want someone who is real and honest...God help us...

    November 22, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  14. Gary H. Boyd

    The ability to solve the nation's problems by far Jack. Since the 1930's most U.S. Presidents have had dubious backgrounds at best, including extra marital affairs. I would suggest Harry Truman was an example of superior character while Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton were both on the other end of the scale.

    Gary in Scottsdale, Arizona

    November 22, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
  15. jack in lombard

    How can we measure a President's ability to solve problems unless that person is a dictator? We have this wonderful (spelled 'almost useless') institution called Congress that can block anything except a Presidential Executive Order. I wonder what would happen if Congress had to vote to refill toilet paper in their bathrooms! A new meaning for Fillibuster?

    November 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  16. Rich in Gainesville FL

    Your question is just another version of the "lesser of two evils" situation that voters see themselves faced with in most elections. Excuse me for wanting better, but I don't give away my vote so easily. If neither of the major parties nominees are people of integrity who understand how to solve our problems, I'm still going to vote but I won't waste my vote on either one of them.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  17. perry jones

    the ability to solve problems nothing eles matters this is not the miss america contest

    November 22, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  18. kim smith, Dodge City, Ks.

    I'm surprised to see you mentioning character is the same sentence concerning a political posistion. Most truely great leaders have many personal flaws which, in time and hindsight, history turns into mere quirks. People who dwell obsessively on the charachter of others are usually trying desperately to hide their own demons.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  19. Richard Texas

    Jack the American people would elect a weasel if they thought it might do something for them. A persons character only maters to people with those kinds of scruples. To the rest of the people they only see what is in it for themselves. No one votes to elect someone for what they are. They vote for them because of what they think they are. If people really knew these clowns and all their skeletons they have crammed into all the nooks and crannies of there closet, then they would all just stay home on election day. No one person can fix all that is broken. That is just not possible. Any person that claims to be able to do so is a fool and has no business running in the first place. The sad thing is that some people still believe that is possible. Unfortunately those same people still believe in the tooth fairy and Santa Claus as well.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  20. Phyllis G. Williams

    When it comes to being President, which is more important, ability to solve the countries
    problems or personal character?

    Personal character is first necessary to solve the countries problems properly.
    Poor characters produce poor choices which will affect a whole country.

    November 22, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
  21. Dea From Fayetteville NC

    I'd choose character over ability, because ability based on lies, manipulations, and backroom deals is not worth the price we pay in the end.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  22. Brandon

    Solving the country's problems.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:05 pm |
  23. Rick, Medina, OH


    The answer is AND not OR. There is too much money and power associated with the Presidency to entrust the job to an individual of weak moral fiber. AND, there is also much at stake in his or her success ...

    Medina, OH

    November 22, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  24. Jenna Roseville CA

    When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?

    BOTH Jack,

    I don't want a president who has a history of committing voter fraud, coruption, fanning hate speech, sexual harrassment claims, taking dead babies home to meet the family, ignorant of facts, gladly using the same government services that one is poopoo'ing for the rest of us, fake Christians, etc.. Character matters.

    And I want a president who can get things done. considering all the bloackage from the GOP at every turn Obama has done much for our nation despite them.

    No way, no how will I vote for a Republican from the party of NO and spoiled losers.

    Roseville CA

    November 22, 2011 at 2:07 pm |
  25. Jim

    Jack, A preposteros question! You cannot have one without the other. Without integrity and character you have nothing of substance to offer. A Country built on shifting sands will not stand. And a devious man will draw all around him into the whirlpool of deceit. We should insist on high moral and ethical standards from our leaders.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  26. Gary - Woodhaven, Michigan

    Don't they go hand and hand?

    Virtue and truth will always lead us down the correct path in the end.

    We are currently trying to rebuild a nation and a society on lies and half truths through absolute ideologies for the sake of power and greed, how well is that working for us?

    November 22, 2011 at 2:10 pm |
  27. Roger

    Jack if we had to choose ether one to solve the country's problems or personal character no republican or democrat would be qualified for the job, the voters are the only one that can solve the problem by voting these life long politicians out of office and replace them with people that are not owned by big corporations and lobbyist. But what’s the chance of that

    November 22, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
  28. Daniel

    If you run for President, you must be connected with the people for you to be a liked President. It's not that hard to understand. It's clear, you gotta solve the country's problems. It's not rocket science.

    Daniel M.
    El Paso, TX

    November 22, 2011 at 2:14 pm |
  29. Jeff In Minnesota

    I think the ability to LEAD the country AND have ideas on how to approach the country's problems are both needed. The real problem in DC is that there are too many chefs in the kitchen and everyone thinks that they have a right to lead. For whatever reason, President Obama seems to take every opportunity to avoid leadership to anyone else that decides they want to lead and he needs to stop that practice and stop it now. The President is not going to have all of the answers, but his advisors and Cabinet should and they should guide the President to the answers and the President should then guide the country through leadership.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:17 pm |
  30. Burt in Az

    I feel personal character is more important. How can you trust someone who has a bad character to do the right thing in solving problems.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:19 pm |
  31. Charlie in New Mexico

    The President could walk on water, BUT it would not affect the way that Washington runs the country. Face it Jack, Americans have the best government that money can buy......

    November 22, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  32. Tom Bulger, Canandaigua, NY

    Problem solving requires leadership. That is dependent upon such things as respectability. People don't enthusiastically rally around dufus slime balls.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
  33. Rick McDaniel

    The ability to solve problems, of course.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
  34. Jim, Denver CO

    It isn't an either or type situation. You need both to be successful. But... the ability, and responsibility, to solve the country's problems lay with Congress (House & Senate). They are the legislative branch and the responsibility for policy is in their hands. And currently the Congress we have is full of people who will not live up to their responsibility, nor do they have the ability too it seems.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:31 pm |
  35. Noel Sivetrson New mexico

    Back in the old days teh presdient was considered the foreign policy adminstrator and the speaker of the house was the president for domestic policy. That's logival because the president can do precious little domestically without the assitance of congress, But both are important. No matter how good a problem solver Newt Gingrich is his personal character would not allow me to vote for him. A candidate needs both.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm |
  36. Michael Roepke Dallas, TX

    The idea that any one person can solve our problems is absurd. Therefore personal character wins hands down. After all, we've seen able Senators and Congresspeople address problems for lobbyists while we have gotten the short end.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
  37. Mike North Port, FL

    Personal character is always an issue when selecting a leader in any organization. Whether it is the military, private sector or the White House. It is also a major consideration for anyone wishing to pursue a career in law enforcement or requiring a security clearance. Why would we not make it a major issue for the highest office in the land? Both are equally important.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
  38. Bob from Bellmore, New York

    Ultimately, there has to be a combination of both. But the President cannot solve the country’s problems alone. The President needs competent advisors and a Congress that is willing to work together with each other and the White House. Above all, the President has to be able to think, analyze, and adjust his or her thinking as situations in the world and the country constantly change. However, just wanting the job with the stress and scrutiny that comes along with it raises questions about someone’s character.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:40 pm |
  39. Tony from Southport

    Well Obama's star quality and personal character got him elected and look at where we are today. He's in way over his head. We need a problem solver in 2012.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:48 pm |
  40. Gary Bellew

    When a person is elected president personal character matters. After elected I would rather see the country's problems solved.

    Gary, MO

    November 22, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  41. Wilhelm von Nord Bach

    I really think they BOTH pretty much go together because someone of low moral character will be out for themselves, looking only to "feather their nest" with the rich and powerful and sell out to the Wall Street Weasels and Corporate Outsourcing Quislings.

    and for those that say, "well what about Bill Clinton?", he was more "DINO" (Democrate in name only) with his NAFTA baloney and deregulation of Wall Street disaster than a TRUE Liberal Democrate like Bernie Sanders or Sherrod Brown who stand up for American workers

    November 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  42. Larry -Denver

    Better question- when you have a broken two party system is it better to have a personality or be a leader and an organizer? Without someone strong enough to have a backbone to get things done and without a politicial body that will do the same, it does not matter who our leader is. Its like asking if you have a broken down car is it better to have a stong person (to push the car) or someone with great character to thumb a ride to nowhere.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  43. Steve

    Obviously it's the candidate that can solve the country's problems as president. we need a leader with vision. The problem is with the voters, they are not too smart. They seem to vote for the least qualified candidate that has neither the ability solve country's problem or personal character. A good example is the Republican candidates Cain vs Romney. Cain has neither and Romney has both qualifications, yet Cain is leading Romney or equal with Romney in the polls. Does that make sence??
    Either the polls are incorrect or voters are stupid to even consider Cain. There you go if Cain gets elected it's the least qualified that wins. He may be a good Pizza maker but that's all he can do. Since the voters are not smart enough to make sound judgement, they deserve a poor unqualified leader. That's is why this country is in trouble most of the time. We don't elect the right leaders. Once in awhile we screw up and vote for a good one.

    November 22, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  44. MNResident

    This is a "he can't walk and chew gum at the same time" question. History is filled with ruthless thugs who "made the trains run on time", and with "nice incompetents". WHY can't we have both, for once?????

    November 22, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  45. Chuck

    You've got to have both. Solutions to the problems as well as impeccable moral character is essential to being President of the United States, or any other nation for that matter. Ron Paul fits the bill perfectly for the 2012 election!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:02 pm |
  46. Michael Bindner, Alexandria, VA

    Neither, the choice should be a proposed solution to the problems the country faces and actual state-wide electoral experience as a Senator or Governor or military experience as a general officer in war. Just being a character, like Gingrich or Cain, is not enough.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:03 pm |
  47. Phil W

    No one person has the answer to every problem. Character however, insures that the best possible solution would be considered and recommended. A person with character is trustworthy and Dr. Paul has certainly shown that he is a man of consistent principles and character. We need to stop putting govt over us as a parent to solve our problems. It is past time we took charge of our own lives and assumed responsibility for ourselves.

    Phil in Atlanta

    November 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  48. mike halter

    They both are " Jack" And it takes a Congress that puts America first instead of partison politics to work with our
    President no matter what party is in power.We as Americans demand it.

    Michael Florida

    November 22, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
  49. Bizz, Quarryville Pennsylvania

    I like a president that can solve problems. I think there are many good people that would make excellent presidents but are afraid to run because of skeletons in the closet. Newt Gingrich might have solved that problem for them. If he can run anyone can run. But Newt Gingrich is no problems solver he is a problem maker.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:06 pm |
  50. Jk from Minnesota

    That's not a black and white question, Jack. Of course problem solving ability is important as for the moral character, it depends on what the flaw is – some are worse than others – Hypocrisy to me is worse.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  51. Brad, Portland, OR

    The ability to solve the country's problems is the most important.

    I don't care what people do in their personal lives as long as it isn't illegal or corrupt, like taking money to influence government officials.

    Ooops, that leaves Newt out...

    November 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  52. Pete from Georgia

    Let's be HONEST. A President can't "solve" America's problems. If a person has that kind of skill set and awesome leadership qualities they are in the private sector not government. Obama and his army of spin doctors has tried to dupe America into believing that he and "His" magical government has all the answers to this country's ills when in fact they are the cause of them. We are the most gullible people ever assembled on this planet.
    A successful President needs two basic qualities to change our disastrous direction. Honesty and Leadership. Lots of each.
    Honesty, in explaining how taxes and regulations are ruining the greatest country in the world.
    Leadership, in boldly leading and encouraging our way back on the right track.
    A decent man or woman who believes in free enterprise and pledges to get government out of the way is all we need in 2012.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  53. Sylvia from San Diego

    The ability to solve the countries problems by far outweighs personal character. Do you think that Kennedy or Clinton with their "personal baggage" would get elected today? Bottom line, I am tired of incompetence and our country needs someone who can run a country in the white house and Newt Gingricht is the person who can do it!!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:08 pm |
  54. Larry from Georgetown, Tx

    Hi Jack. Are you kidding me. This is Washington, DC, the city of crime and corruption. Why should moral character matter since our society is going down hill and fast in this and many other areas. The GOP doesn't have a real candidate and it shows.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:10 pm |
  55. Lori - PA


    We can't expect every Presidential candidate to be perfect, it's just not possible. But given the money Gringrich has gotten from Freddie Mac and the health-care industry, and given some of the comments he's made, I can't see how Gingrich would be in favor of any legislation that would benefit the middle class and poor.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:14 pm |
  56. Kirk (Apple Valley, MN)

    Your question confuses me Jack. Are saying that character and leadership ability shouldn't go hand-in-hand? Are you saying that a sleazeball like Gingrich should be president because he can "lead"? And what leadership qualities has Gingrich actually shown over the past 20 years?

    November 22, 2011 at 3:18 pm |
  57. David of Alexandria VA

    Voting for someone with the ability to solve the problem but without the temperament to be able to do so is a waste of electoral energy. Newt is a brilliant guy but his own worst enemy. Romney has both - at a time when the country is being divided by the political process, his character will be essential. We have a guy now who has no ability to solve things but seems to be an agreeable character - and we know that doesn't work.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
  58. Andre R. Newcomb

    Accepting an unearned Nobel Peace Prize is an indication of good character? Or is that to do with the Nobel piece price? Remember that the announcement occurred at the time of the arrival of revelations of the magical Tiger Woods? With Mr. Barry smiling on the phone after the announcement. Mr. Newt has his problems also.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  59. Greg in Arkansas

    Jack, go back in time and ask that same question in Germany in the 30's......need a hint??

    Personal character decides HOW problems get solved.....and sometimes, the solution can be worse than the problem.

    Good character may not produce the fast results everyone wants but bad character has the potential to really really hurt in the long run....

    November 22, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  60. ced1956 from McFarland Wisconsin

    Question: When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?

    We elect a CEO of the administrative branch not a savior. It's silly for anyone to expect a POTUS to solve all of our problems. Silly but still the norm since our political landscape is scorched by the unrealistic expectations of citizens looking for a savior/oracle/wizard.

    Clearly, character and the capacity for good judgement trump how the candidate looks atop a white horse.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:23 pm |
  61. Richard, in Kansas

    The two are inseperable. Hitler slashed unemployment and made the trains run on time but his lack of personal and moral charecter lead Germany into ruin. On the other hand British Prime Minister Chamberlin was a man of high moral charecter who simply failed to lead. To be asked to choose one or the other is no different than asking us to choose the lesser of two evils and only sets us up for more failure and disappointment. We should expect and demand better.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:25 pm |
  62. Dan in Albuquerque

    Jack, there are two aspects of personal character: personal life and political life. Gingrich has done some pretty disgusting things regarding his wives, but I don't judge that as much as I do his double dealing in politics. First, calling for an end to child labor laws just because he and all other Republicans hate unions. Then railing against Obama's mandate on Affordable Health Care, when he was one that helped create the idea. He also railed against Freddie and Fanny, concealing the fact that he was a lobbyist for one of them for big bucks. He was actually helping them to influence his own Party, which is strongly against those agencies. He uses extreme Tea Party and ultra right-wing rhetoric to get votes, but I'm not sure anything he says or does is based on principle, except the principal of building his own personal fortune. Not a man most people would want leading their country.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  63. Larry,Springfield,Ohio

    Jack,if Newt can get us out this mess,which I think he most likely can,I don't care if he ran brothel,after all remember Bill Clinton,not bad for a guy with no moral fiber!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:44 pm |
  64. Kim , Dodge City, Kansas

    Neither, Jack. Everyone knows it is the ability to raise money and provide service to special interests that makes a good President. Anybody that has enough political background to run for president has undoubtedly long ago shed any character they may have once had. As far as the Newt is concerned, character is a virtue entirely foreign to him. Wow, sounds like the perfect Republican.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:45 pm |
  65. Lene, IL

    As far as both Romney and Gingrich, in my eyes they both have bad character. Gingrich is a hypocrite philanderer and Romney is a flip flop tell them what they want to hear guy. I believe Romney might be good on the business end but Gingrich has more experience in Washington.... I think they are both the wrong choices and polorizing in one way or another to moderate voters. The only guy I see out there with the ability to solve our nations problems and moral character is Ron Paul. He also has the ability to unify voters for causes that are important to us all. I will even go this far, our troops and veterans overwhelmingly support him and they are the ones that fought for our freedom and liberty that also speaks volumes!

    November 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  66. Karl in Flint

    Both are very important. A moral failure with political experience should not be POTUS. The First Lady of this country can be a top model, like in France,not be a high priced hooker that slept with the President while he was still married to his last high priced hooker. We never had real knowledge of the drinking, driving and drug record of the last president and we see how well that went. We know where New'st moral standing and the United States deserves better. We don't need President Pimp representing us to the world.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  67. Neal

    That is a completely false choice. The country is full of problem solvers with character. Gingrich is neither. Most of his ideas are stupid and he is personally a slime-bag. And he fits right in with the rest of the Republicans.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  68. Gigi Oregon

    Personal character is a choice behaviour. That shows a man's true character I would not trust a person who didn't have above reproach character when he took the oath of office. That is our biggest problem in presidential campaigns today. They twist or actually lie about their opponents words.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:49 pm |
  69. Nate NC

    When did they separate? George Washington was selected for both reasons. Benjamin Franklin was encouraged for both reasons. The fact that candidates nowadays have one or the other, further explains how desperate we are for things to get better in this country by ignoring whichever we consider to be the lesser of the two attributes.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  70. Bill of New Mexico

    The President must have both.

    A shortage of either property causes a failure in the other for the President.

    American needs a new system for finding a President that excels in both!

    Maybe it is time to draft a President from another selection.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:53 pm |
  71. Doug Ericson

    There aren't any candidates that have the ability to solve the country"s problems, and if there were, they would not be able to get elected. How important is character? Jimmy Carter was as close to a Saint, as any president we have had in this country, but he was a disaster. So good character is not a guarantee of good performance as a President. I think good Political Judgement, would be more important, but we keep getting stuck with puppets, and ding-a-lings. Doug, Pepperell, MA.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  72. Jenny from Nanuet, New York

    Luckily for us Democrats. BOTH are important, and President Obama trumps both men in both categories.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  73. J.B. Nashville TN

    Character?? What about President Obama's associations? Reverend Wright? The President's job is to "LEAD"
    and work in a bi partisanship manner. Sound familiar? I'd bet the ranch that Gingrich's policies would fix the economy
    in less tha a year.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  74. Bob S.

    Character, YES HE IS ONE!! He is what was and is wrong with Washington

    November 22, 2011 at 3:54 pm |
  75. Ed from Texas

    In this era of hyper-partisanship, neither would help if the control of government is divided.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:55 pm |
  76. Paulette Bent

    The ideal candidate would satisfy both qualification. Romney is the more stand up guy. Gingrich may know more but obviously can't be trusted. Just ask hi s exes. Romney would learn as he goes and surround himself with qualified advisors and appointees. The country does not need any skirt chasing distractions and from what I've heard and read the present Mrs. Gingrich is quite the Diva.

    November 22, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  77. Paul - North Carolina

    I say it's a skillful blending of the two which creates the ability to lead. Gingrich may have extensive knowledge and experience on many issues confronting our nation but he has no leadership qualities. No one wants to follow a pompous ass whose only concern is his own personal gratification. His obvious disdain for public opinion, the media, other candidates and just about anyone who isn't Newt will lead his candidacy down the same dead end road as Bachman, Perry and Cain. If Newt really wants any chance to be president I have some advice: Take a bath.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm |
  78. Loren

    A list of the moral weaknesses of our Presidents would rival the Encyclopaedia Brittanica for length. Ultimately, what makes a good President is what he does for our country and his personal moral mistakes prior to office are likely irrelevant to his performance in office What is most important is putting the interests of the country as a whole before his personal interests, something not every President has been able to do. Witness President Clinton selling our country's manufacturing backbone to the Chinese for Walmart as one of the most egregious examples of self interest trumping the public need.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:05 pm |
  79. jeff in hawaii

    Neither Jack.
    Our system is so broken that neither of these qualities can come into play and given the way this country votes, they may not for another 12 years.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:07 pm |
  80. Ken from California

    It seems to me the problem with the Republican party not finding a good candidate is because of the so-called moralistic right. I cringe when candidates say they got a message from the man in the sky to lead our country. We have millions of unemployed who would deal with the devil for a job.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  81. dave in nashville

    Clinton was not the most stand up husband, but he did a good job in spite of Gingrich leading congress simultaneously. But they also enacted NAFTA, a truly huge mistake we are still suffering from. I think Ron Paul speaks volumes of common sense and personal integrity, and he is not any less smart than Newt.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  82. Renee Peoria,Ill

    Since when does doing a great Ebenezer Scrooge impression qualify someone to solve this country's problems? The Gin-grinch's recent statements on child labor laws and janitors tells me he wants to put more people out of work so we can pay children pennies to do the same job. Taking us back to the 19th century is NOT going to solve this country's problems. It's also proof positive that he has no character, morals or integrity.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm |
  83. George Abba

    Jack if you're asking me to make a choice between Mitt and Newt, I have news for you... none! I want someone that has a good character as well as the ability to solve our problems. Is that asking for too much?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  84. Ken Victoria BC

    Charactor is very, very important when you are the Leader of the Free World. Mr Gingrich has a lot of nerve to even think he would be a good President based on his past.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:13 pm |
  85. Winn

    You can't separate a person from there character. It follows them wherever they go and no matter what they do.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  86. PiedType

    Well, I voted personal character last time and look where it's gotten me. If it's got to be and either/or decision next year, I'm ready to vote for leadership.


    November 22, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  87. Andrew Evans

    Personal character is paramount in choosing the leader of our nation. Personal character and solving our problems should be one in the same. Only a person with high personal character can solve our nation's problems in an ethical manner that should be expected from the leader of the free world.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  88. Britton

    Ron Paul has great character and can solves this country's self inflicted wounds. All the other candidates are puppets of Wall Street and have MAJOR character issues.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  89. Cee.La

    Its probably too much to ask, but both would be nice......but presidents cant solve problems if Congress will not work with them.....and thats what we have now.....

    November 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  90. Jeremy Tennessee

    Jack you should have showed Romney that poll on character BEFORE his first television ad aired. Now we know his real character

    November 22, 2011 at 4:17 pm |
  91. Lynda of St. Louis, MO

    Jack, If one does not have good character – then they shouldn't be leading. What else is there to say?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  92. Tyler

    Anyone who votes for a president just for there personal character is a moron. We need someone who knows how to solve all the problems that the idiot in the white house has created.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  93. Wayne

    Leadership and character are not mutually exclusive you cannot be a good leader if you have a poor character. you need to have a high integrity and ability to solve the country's problems I'm doubtful that Gingrich has the skills to solve the country's problems. His ideas are no different than any other Republican and his hard line stance won't get anything through Congress

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  94. Linda in Arizona

    The ability to solve the country's problems will trump personal character every time, and it should. Newt, however, is at the bottom of both lists.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  95. Eric - Texas

    The Anti-Christ will have the ability to lead...but lacks moral character. Unless we are okay eventually being led by the anti-Christ, moral character is a mandatory pre-requisite.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  96. Howard

    Who would you vote for Nixon or Carter? The problem is you don't know until the get into the White house.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  97. Jerod Lycett

    Well Obama basically lied about large parts of his campaign. That shows low character. So if they have low character, then how can we trust that they will lead as they say, or that they will solve the problems? Neither is more important, as they're both the same thing. Lobbying still exists.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  98. Ray in Maryland

    Jack they go hand in Hand. You need to consistent to be my selection for President. None of these Guys in the fit the Bill. Governor Huntsman does. Character, ability, honesty and NO Flip Flopping.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:19 pm |
  99. Jamie

    Jack, the ability to lead and personal character are one in the same. You cannot solve the country's problems if your integrity is for sale.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  100. Tom from Pittsburgh, PA

    If you are going to be a leader, you have to know and care about those you are leading. If those you are leading believe that your character is more important than ability to lead, you had better try to limit and mend your character flaws.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  101. Dave Broyles

    Personal character is more important – character is a sign of moral or ethical strength (integrity) that someone must have if we are to follow their lead...ultimately, it takes all of us to solve the country's problems

    November 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  102. Jsunuu

    They are equally important. Leadership ability and problem solving skills are definitely important, but morality and integrity is just as important.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:20 pm |
  103. Joe Ft Walton Bch Fl

    When President Obama was elected to the White House I din't expected him neither the rest of the population expected that Obama going to solve the worlds problems and our local economy problems. If they were let down next time around don't vote anyone in the White House. Problem solving should have been done before the election, after the election they have the first 4 years and if lucky a second term to solve what should have been solved before the elections. That leaves their personal characters. If they can't buy a car on their personal character than I guess they need to work on that also before the election.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  104. Jim from Trucksville, PA

    The President needs both qualities, with the heart of a street fighter. The biggest problem is not the economy or the deficit, it's Congress. Obama needs an injection of the killer instinct. The biggest obstacle to starting to fix our situation is subject of taxes and the elephant in the room is Norquist. Who elected him? Message to Obama: Stop being subtle and start getting nasty. We'll love you for it.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  105. Gail Olson

    personal character important?...you mean like when the country re-elected Bill Clinton? riiiigggghhhhtttt...., Chevy Chase, Maryland

    November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  106. Tim

    We need a leader who knows what he is doing. Gingrich has been there, he has experience, something our country needs right now. The Republicans don't want him because he doesn't totally follow the party line. He makes the others look like school children in the debates. Ability to lead the country right now is crucial.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  107. Terry

    How can you truly solve the country's problems without personal character? We have a lot of experience in Washington, however, this is no indication of their ability to solve the country's problems.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  108. Clare from Florida

    Gingich has shown he has no character. As far as solving problems, when has he? He has a sharp tongue and a nasty demeanor. If he were elected President, he would be extremely devisive as his rhetoric is loaded with nasty jabs. The Country is devided under Obama, but at least he has strong moral character and a nice man who also happens to be smart. If I were a Republican, I would much prefer Mitt Romney. A man who cheats on his wife is an accomplished liar who would lie to the Country.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  109. Cres

    Jack, you missed the point though. Newt Gingrich is the epitomy of Ronald Reagan's supply side, voodoo,
    top down, economic philosphy which does nothing but promote the rich getting rich and the poor getting poorer at the expense of the dwindling middle class. Newt Gingrich - advisor to any president - absolutely. Newt Gingrich – President - no way.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  110. Nicholas Tucci

    Obviously the ability to lead is more important than someone's personal character. What defines a "good character" is different for every person, but the ability to lead is objective. At the end of the day, I (and the country) would rather have a jerk that can turn around the state of the union than a nice guy who can't lead.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  111. Snuffy

    Many Presidents had some moral problems but did a bang up job on the rest of the problems.
    2 wifes or 3 mistress who counts ... save the usa is what counts NEWT is the man over Romney.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  112. Alliene, Denver, Co

    Who cares about fixing anything as long as we have someone leading us who can charm the public. The problems won't be addressed anyway no matter the leadership skills or personal character, so long as one party always disagrees with what the other tries to do. Just out of principle. "Oh my that's a good Idea! Well... Lets disagree with it, they're the other guys"

    November 22, 2011 at 4:22 pm |
  113. Charlene Miller

    What a sad, sad state we are in ... that we can't find a politician of good and sound character who knows his business!!! Sad!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |

    Two words: Bill Clinton. Enough said.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  115. Christopher in MARYLAND

    It is indeed very painful that we are debating personal morality and leadership abilities as two seperate entitities while in reality..the very first criteria for leadership is personal values .How do you resolve the challenges of a nation while you cannot possibly settle the storms in your life or not being forthright on your positions on anything(romney).Obama is a far better qualified candidate than these two morally challenged republican front runners!!!!!!!!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  116. Dave H

    I believe that without moral character, the presidents ability to lead would be terribley hindered. Making decisions based purely on logic could prove to be the wrong decision. No matter what! That being said, I also believe that his or her moral values cannot be decided solely by what church they attend or what religon they adhere to.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  117. Will from south dakota

    I believe personal character is the most important. I didn't always feel that way but having witnessed first hand the example that our nations leaders have set for us by lying, cheating, stealing, adultery and every other reprehensible behavior you can imagine I realized that our country has just followed their example leading us down a path of destruction. Unless we wake up and clean up our act things will only get worse. None of our problems can be solved until we as a people realize that character does matter.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  118. Warren Edwards

    With all due respect to the people who chose ability to lead over character; Hitler was a great leader but look where he lead his followers, and some might say Obama has great character but it not leading. The fact is we shouldn't have to choose. Making this distinction is what has got us into the predicaments we're in today. We follow the loud, brash, confident idiots we put into office, and beat down the 'nice guys' we elect. What we really need is a leader devoid of party, of sides, of conservative vs. progressive. A reasonable person is not all one thing, what we need is a leader who has the best interest of the country in mind, not party, not re-election, nor fear of failure.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  119. Stan Riley

    Personal characteristics may say a lot about how one may lead a great nation. However, in the wake of the many problems that we face today, the ability to solve problems and getting the job done is what's best for our future.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  120. Dave Emerson

    Normally, I would say that a strong personal character would be a great asset as a leader. However, in the case of our crumbling political system, I have come to question the character of every beaurocrat. Thus, a leader who can provide results, regardless of the issues in their personal life, is what our country needs. Idealogy does not fix problems, a strong leader does.

    Dave – Sweetwater, TN

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  121. Darren Davis (Belleville, Ontario)

    There are over 330 Million people in the United States. I'm hoping you can find someone who excels at both.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  122. Jon Applegate

    I'm surprised you even asked such a question. Stalin solved problems, so did Hitler and Al Capone. Would you want one of them as President. Of course character comes first. Without it the solutions will seldom be good ones.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
  123. Josh from New Jersey

    OF COURSE CHARACTER!!!!! This is America! The beacon of hope, we need a president that can be respected both domestically and around the world. If he's that smart, you would be smart to make him your adviser. Not the top dog. Come on y'all!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  124. Darryl Schmitz

    That's easy, Jack. Mitt Romney has good moral character but is an indecisive populist who has no consistent principle set. Newt Gingrich has poor moral character, good speaking ability but wants to continue high-flying right wing policies that contributed to the mess our country is in. Ron Paul has excellent moral character, consistent Constitutional principles and is 100% incorruptible. In other words, he is the right person to lead the country through these difficult times. Unfortunately, there are too many powerful, self-serving forces opposing him and unsubstantiated polls misleading the public about his electability. We may have to rebuild our country from the ashes of whatever is left after we've collapsed it into oblivion.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  125. diane from sweet home, or

    With Bill Clinton, according to republicans, it was personal character, . Now it doesn't matter?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  126. Kevin from Chicago

    Newt presents the Republicans with their first "Moral dilemma" in decades. A former Speaker with unmatchable gravitas but a past that makes the religious uneasy. Or a Mormon with executive experience in the business world and the political world, which also make the religious uneasy. What a tangled web the GOP weave.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  127. Julio Guzman

    Both are important. It can't be an either or because they affect each other. It is like saying what is more important, your left eye or your right eye?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  128. Bill

    So let me get this right Jack. You’re asking if it's ok for us to agree that the ends justify the means. Like when Al Capone gave money to the church. It was ok to be a gangster in order to get the money for the “poor box”. I’m thinking that this creep Newt is just too mean to be the President of the United States. His personality is too much like Stalin’s for me. Newty and the Blowhards should all crawl back under what ever they were under before coming out to put on the side show that has been the Republican Primary race.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  129. Paul

    Short of deeds deemed illegal, problem solving is far more important. If we set too high of a moral bar for candidates, nobody will meet our standards. We aint looking for saints to worship here, the nation needs intelligence, courage and leadership much more than a marriage count. Past personal mistakes can indicate wisdom if someone has learned from them.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm |
  130. Monalisa/ Elsa, TX

    My choice would be the ability to lead this country because by the looks of it, this country is on the down side. A good president will lead this country with great spirit and courage not with their personal character. Someone who will make good choices not for themselves but for the country he is running.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  131. Michael A

    Both are requirered, character and leadership go hand in hand. We shouldn't have to make an either or decision for the most important positions in our country. If a candidate treas the most important promises in their life (e.g. Your marriage) with disdain, what makes one believe they won't treat their promises to the American people equally.

    Michael A

    November 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  132. Fred Fenton, Concord, CA

    Leadership ability or moral character is such an American question. Europeans would never raise that issue. Presidents of unimpeachable moral character have dropped the atom bomb on civilian populations and bailed out the banks without imposing restrictions on their future behavior. We need an effective leader. Moral character is a plus but not a requirement.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  133. Mike

    Isn't a person's character an indication as to where they might lead you?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:26 pm |
  134. Ray Swartz, Boston

    What we need from a president is 1) wisdom/vision; 2) intelligence/education; 3) strength of convictions/ability to persuade, in that order. Accordingly, none of the GOP candidates would be a good president.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  135. Susan, Cranford NJ

    It takes both, and one should inform the other. My problem with his character is not the character of his personal life, but the character of a man that thinks that torture is ok, that we should use covert ops to "send in CIA to take them out" in Iran, and the idea that we're "paying people to not work". As if that is their preferance. My husband was out for more than two years. Newt has obviously never had to make it on Unemployment. It's no picnic. THOSE things make me question his values.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  136. Linda of Washington DC

    The ability to solve the Country's problems should go hand-in-hand with intelligence and personal character/integrity. Why must it be either or, why can't a good leader possess both? A wee-bit of humility thrown in can't hurt. Too large an ego is the #1 problem with most politicians. But I suppose you need a huge ego to believe you can be POTUS and would have the answer to all the questions and have the ability to solve all that ails. Wanted: Superman/woman to be POTUS.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  137. Teresa Chapman

    We are in desperate need of a problem solver. As far as Newt's character goes..".Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone". I don't know if anyone can get us out of this mess we are in, but would sure like to give Newt a chance.He makes me feel hopeful.
    Teresa Fontana, CA

    November 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  138. Barbara ,NY State

    I don't need a combination of both. What goes on in a person's marriage is their own business. I / We need a LEADER who is "Smart" ,,, not a "Saint" ! I'd vote TOMORROW for Bill Clinton if he ran. What goes on UNDER the desk stays UNDER the desk. We need a Problem not a Minister !!!!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  139. Jack - Lancaster, Ohio

    Mr. Cafferty:

    Neither is more important. We know by now that if a President cannot solve a problem then it's the congress' fault or the other party's fault. If a president makes a gross moral error, he can always apologize....problem solved.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:28 pm |
  140. Stan Riley

    Personal characteristics says a lot about how one may lead a great nation. However, in the wake of the many problems that we face today, the ability to finally solve problems and get something done is what we need. Americas future depends on it.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  141. John Logsdon, floral city, florida

    We need a leader whose brain is located between his ears and whose heart is with the middle class. Too many of the current crop o f Republican candidates seem to have a history of orbiting around their wallet and other peoples sexual preferences. Being moral seems to be an intelligent choice- I believe Immanuel Kant said "You ought to be good, just because." (some sort of imperative) He was pretty smart.
    John the elder
    Floral City, Florida

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  142. Jason in AL

    Both are equally important. A leader may be able to solve problems, but the question we should ask is.....Without moral character, what tactics will the president use to solve problems?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  143. Dennis north carolina

    Both are important but newt lacks one.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  144. sylvia grant

    They are both important....they are both important and the question doesn't have one answer.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  145. Josh from New Jersey

    OF COURSE CHARACTER!!!!! This is America! The beacon of hope. We need a president that can be respected both domestically and around the world. If he's that smart, make him your top adviser. Not the top dog. Come on y'all!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:29 pm |
  146. Stella from Chicago

    Character: Gingrich is a fascist. Put the poor children to work as janitors? Why not in a concentration camp to show the world the real face of a "Real Republican"? This is what "THEY" want, then to go to Tiffany and buy more staff!. Right?
    It's beyond words!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  147. Barbara ,NY State

    I don't need a combination of both. What goes on in a person's marriage is their own business. I / We need a LEADER who is "Smart" ,,, not a "Saint" ! I'd vote TOMORROW for Bill Clinton if he ran. What goes on UNDER the desk stays UNDER the desk. We need a Problem Solver ...not a Minister !!!!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:30 pm |
  148. Harvey Johnson

    Both are important to become the president, to bad there is no Republican that has either attribute.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
  149. James Anderson NH

    Problem Solver v. Personal Character

    I would prefer either over Deceptive Behavior (Mitt Romney's newest NH ad)

    November 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  150. Louise in Georgia

    Personal character in politics? Didn't know that was even a possibility anymore. It is not just personal scandal that plagues politicians, it's the recent stories of insider trading and watching ordinary citizens go into politics with average or modest income levels and come out as millionaires they must think that the average American is truly stupid. It is outrageous that the president as well as most politicians are demonizing millionaires and billionaires when the highest concentration of them are in Washington.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  151. Scott - Ontario, Canada

    Both character and ability to solve problems would be ideal. However, based on the current situation regarding the inability of a super committee failure...........ability to solve problems and decisiveness are key.

    Personal character is important but Americans want results and are going to look the other way if there is a Whitehouse intern involved. The next Republican presidential nominee will be Romney because of the mix of both character and ability to solve problems. Herman Cain's problems with the sexual harrassment issues has damaged his character and lack of knowledge on foreign policy ruined his bid for the Republican nominee. Newt has shown his true character by his Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac involvement. Newt does have the best ability and experience to lead the country but do you really want someone as president that is no doubt looking to line his pockets with middle class american incomes?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  152. June -Chicago

    The ability to solve the Nation's problem's. The problem is that you can't trust a pathological liar to really solve the nation's problems. Someone like Newt could look you straight in the eye and tell you the biggest lie... and then one day later, deny he even spoke to you. Remember Health Care Providers, Fannie & Freddie etc, etc, etc.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  153. WR Jones, New Port Richey, FL

    What's important is a set of core beliefs, not forming your plan on a poll or the advice of a lobby group. President GW Bush made many mistakes, had every reason to lose a second term, but he won because the voters knew he believed in what he was doing, he did what his gut told him was right, not what the 24/7 news demanded.
    Leading by poll is easy, leading with your heart is not.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:32 pm |
  154. Anu Thadani

    A lot of our country's problems have been caused by politicians with poor character. Someone with poor charater will never get us out of our hole. If we want to get out of this mess, we need to select our leaders carefully and look for someone who is intelligent, can solve problems AND has a sound set of values not dictated by any religion.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  155. Fay in Abilene Tx

    I doubt there is a more honorable man around than Jimmy Carter. Need I say more?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  156. G. Staff

    While Gingrich has a character flaw in one respect, it does not necessarily follow that he totally lacks any character at all. Conversely, just because no one has uncovered a similar character flaw in Romney's personal life does not prove he has a sterling character with no character flaws at all. I would vote for Gingrich over Romney any day. People sometimes criticize career politicians but they can have the knowledge & experience that this country desperately needs now to reverse our current direction. Gingrich has lots of experience and intellect and is very well spoken when interviewed.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  157. Pete/Ark

    We can't have both ???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

    November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  158. John from Utah

    When it comes to being president, which is more important: the ability to solve the country's problems or personal character?

    The president should set an example. Yes personal character is important.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm |
  159. Ron WPAFB

    You would hope the combination of qualities that is the best of us. But, this is the worst bunch of Republicans I have ever seen! And they can't solve their own problems less alone the Country's problems. I mean really, is there no standard? Barak Obama stands way above these morons. We're in trouble plenty if this is the best the Republicans can put forward! No wonder they have ruined the Congress!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  160. Riley in Seattle

    When a poll that says people believe Gingrich is a better leader but Romney is more electable, why would anyone vote for either? Maybe I'm old fashioned but shouldn't the leader of the Western world be both? And if you have to choose one, center leaning policy that can capture a higher percentage of independents should not trump an actual point of view and natural leadership ability.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  161. Jim

    What America needs is a President that can provide strong leadership and has a good character. They both matter, Gingrich has too much personal baggage, his character is very shaky even though it does appear he is the strongest candidate the Republicans currently have. As a Nation we can't afford to roll the dice and hope a President Gingrich doesn't have more distractions we don't need in what is inarguably the most serious crisis we have beenin in 80 years.So the short answer is yes, character definitely matters.



    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  162. Jerry Jacksonville, Fl.

    Personal character will earn you respect which in turn will give you the confidence to lead effectively. If you worry about what people think of you then your in trouble to start with and someone like Newt that has alot of baggage to carry around seems like a person that could careless about what people think and would be a lousy president.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:36 pm |
  163. Ted New Mexico

    Great leaders must posses the moral integrity and conviction to hold the trust of the people they lead, one can possess all the so called skills but if one lacks the moral backbone "we the people" can not trust that this person is doing what is in the best interest of the people that are electing them. Newt's history should not be ignored this is his background and what he will more than likely be his style and method of operation, he hasn't changed what makes one think that he will if elected President, his ego will not allow him to. Listen to him he never answers a question he doesn't like he is a smooth politician says what excites the base and he has mastered the art of deflection. All what Newt has been against in this election is what he has been in his career of politics. Romney is in the same boat while he doesn't have the "Washington Smoothness" he plays what will garner support at the time he is cleaner that Newt but he has no backbone to do what is right, he will arm chair quarterback the President and banter to the Conservative Base but what will he do when the chips are down, its not changing his stand over time that is a concern for me it is he has no true conviction on anything a lot like Newt.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:37 pm |
  164. Sandstone.

    "In my stories, even though they're fiction, the character had better be believable has a hero-protagonist; but if my reader see's through his/her cover, then I can't expect to sell many copies! I get a lot of fun out of what I do, but I still need to be credable!"

    November 22, 2011 at 4:38 pm |
  165. valerie karlson

    One cannot lead without personal character: leadership 101. You cannot ask a person in uniform to go into harm's way for a person without it; you cannot ask your wife to walk with you thru life without it; you cannot ask the American people to vote for and stand by in times of trouble without it–hello Valley Forge-Washington showed character and resolve on the battlefield–that is WHY those soldiers in burlap bags Gingrich talks about stuck with him when there was NO PAY and NO REWARD in sight–only faith, determination and COURAGE–the last time I looked those three are essential when defining character. If we need those soldiers we also need leaders like Washington. The question is which one of these candidates has the personal character to take on the overwhelming issues being faced by this nation–if we cannot find it now we might as well pack up and go crying to Britain to save us because clearly our "experiment" has failed....for LACK of character! The American people are ready, willing and able to stand up as soon as our leaders start showing and living the very character expected of them in their daily lives.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  166. Fannie Walker

    Knowledge & ability to lead is paramount in a Pesident. If Mr, Grinrich should get the nomination, he should have to sign a contract with America that he will not have another affair should he become President.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  167. John Kelley

    I can not help but feel that solving problems and character go hand in hand. I've just finished reading Ron Chernow's biography of George Washington. Why was Washington successful as General and President? It was character and his experience that made him a winner. His role as the first president was so crucial. He made the right decisions because of character and his belief in Americans

    November 22, 2011 at 4:40 pm |
  168. Greg in TN

    Washington DC is a cauldron of avarice, corruption, deceit, intrigue, and thirst for power. Newt's adultery woulldn't be a blip on that map. However, his experience as a congressman should qualify him to be an integral part of that cauldron.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  169. John Keida

    Would a good man believe "Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven" ? The bar of character is so low in Washington that by Washington standards, each of the Republican candidates is highly qualified.
    John from Oklahoma

    November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  170. Julio Guzman

    Both are equally important. They affect each other. It is like saying which is more important, your right eye or your left eye?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:41 pm |
  171. Anthony from Maryland

    Character but too bad none of these "Flawed" candidates have what it takes to become President. This is why each week one rises and other fall. The Republican field are a bunch of losers hoping that someone will be dumb enough to vote for them. I am afraid that someone will!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  172. Peggy Howard

    Personal character and morality is important, but as in Ronald Reagan who was married and divorced before, he had great leadership skills and solved problems. I would vote for Gingrich first before I would even darken a door to vote for someone that is in a Mormon cult, which is of the devil from the word go, as Romney is. Gingrich is very knowledgable and is a leader and above very savvy smart!

    November 22, 2011 at 4:43 pm |
  173. John Burke

    Your question presents a false choice and accepts a premise that is in fact the nature of our predicament: We are told to think that politicians possess an ability to solve the nation’s problems because they possess great power, and have access to great knowledge. This assumption isn’t working. It is a conceit, and, as such, a form of corruption and a deformation of personal character. Romney has it. Gingrich has it.

    John Burke
    Vancouver, WA

    Ron Paul doesn’t. He thinks government should be limited and constitutionally constrained. Oh, and by the way, he’s been married to the same woman for over 50 years.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm |
  174. marybeth, massachusetts


    I don't think Newt's character matters one bit to the Bible-thumping, it's all about me, I got mine, I don't care about you Republicans. So long as Newt tells them what they want to hear, the Republican base will be like the perfect Victorian-era wife, meek, dutiful, obedient, and turns a blind eye to her husband's infidelities, gambling, drinking, and other bad habits. It is all about appearance.

    I have no intention of voting for Newt; he is becoming a flip-flopper like Romney and lately Cain, and I don't like his weasely ethics. This is a man who was so nasty that HIS OWN PARTY removed him from the Speakership. This is a man who went after President Clinton for his affair with Monica Lewinsky while Newt was also having affairs. This is a man who wants to repeal the child labor laws (get rid of adult workers and put 6 years to work), who took money from Freddie Mac and the health insurance industry. He's just as bought and paid for as Perry and all of the politicians in Washington. The difference with him is that all you have to do is do a quick search on the internet to find out how he voted, what he did, the shenanigans he pulled, and for records of his slimy behavior. Ewww....now I'm going to go take a shower.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  175. thomas coe

    thomas, california
    Personal character issues come about as a result of ones' moral decisions. I want the country's problems solved like everyone else; I just don't want to wake up the next day feeling all dirty about what we had to do to solve them. We have slavery and the near erradication of the American indian in our history, and, some may argue, the Iraq war, more recently, because past leaders made the wrong moral decisions.

    November 22, 2011 at 4:45 pm |
  176. Terrence from Az

    We don't have either in Obama so I'll take either

    November 22, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  177. Mike, Calgary

    No offense Jack-
    But somewhere in this great nation of ours, can't we find someone with both? Please?

    November 22, 2011 at 4:48 pm |