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CNN Rewards Gingrich's Frontrunner Status with Most Speaking Time at DC Debate

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Romney cedes the top spot in speaking time at a debate for the first time since the September 12th gathering in Tampa, Florida

newtgingrich10.jpgWith the release of national surveys over the last week by four polling organizations that show Newt Gingrich leading the Republican presidential field (CNN, Quinnipiac, USA Today/Gallup and FOX), CNN took its cue and shined a spotlight on the former House Speaker with a wattage that he had not yet received in any of the previous debates.

While Gingrich was still denied one of the two center stage slots in D.C. Tuesday evening - reserved for Mitt Romney and Herman Cain - he nonetheless was a focal point of the questions posed and directed by moderator Wolf Blitzer.

A Smart Politics content analysis of the Constitution Hall debate finds that, for the first time this debate season, Newt Gingrich notched the most speaking time on the GOP stage.

Gingrich clocked in Tuesday at 12 minutes and 8 seconds, or 16.1 percent of the total speaking time recorded by the eight 2012 Republican White House hopefuls.

While Gingrich's tally was only 36 seconds greater than that of Mitt Romney (11:32, 15.3 percent), it marked the first time the former Massachusetts governor was not afforded the most speaking time since the CNN/Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Florida on September 12th when he took a distant second to Rick Perry that evening.

And although there was some inequality in the distribution of speaking time Tuesday night, it was not as stark as in several recent debates during which Romney was given twice as much time to answer questions as at least half the candidates on the stage (e.g. New Hampshire #2, Nevada, Michigan).

In the latest CNN moderated debate, Gingrich and Romney were followed by Rick Perry at 10 minutes 55 seconds (14.5 percent), Ron Paul at 9 minutes 59 seconds (13.3 percent), Michele Bachmann at 9 minutes 25 seconds (12.5 percent), Rick Santorum at 7 minutes 59 seconds (10.6 percent), and Jon Huntsman at 7 minutes and 43 seconds (10.2 percent).

The only candidate to get doubled-up on Tuesday was Herman Cain, who vanished with just 5 minutes and 37 seconds of screen time to his name, or 7.5 percent.

Gingirch's rise in the polls has also seen him rise in the amount of speaking time he has received during the debates.

A little more than a month ago, when Gingrich was just about to crack double-digits in national polls, the former House speaker received the least amount of speaking time at the Las Vegas, Nevada debate.

By the time the Michigan debate rolled around on November 9th, Gingrich was polling in the mid-teens and en route to the second most speaking time at the Oakland University gathering.

Of course, with the increased face time, Gingrich has now invited greater scrutiny of his performance, and it remains to be seen how the public reacts to getting a closer look at the latest GOP frontrunner.

Most Speaking Time at D.C.'s Constitutional Hall GOP Presidential Debate

Rank
Candidate
Time
Percent
1
Newt Gingrich
12 min. 08 sec.
16.1
2
Mitt Romney
11 min. 32 sec.
15.3
3
Rick Perry
10 min. 55 sec.
14.5
4
Ron Paul
9 min. 59 sec.
13.3
5
Michele Bachmann
9 min. 25 sec.
12.5
6
Rick Santorum
7 min. 59 sec.
10.6
7
Jon Huntsman
7 min. 43 sec.
10.2
8
Herman Cain
5 min. 37 sec.
7.5
Data compiled by Smart Politics.

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1 Comment


  • Gov. Perry was the commander in chief indeed. He did great. Gov. Perry, unlike other candidates, is running basically on his gigantic record of achievements. Can you imagine Obama running against Perry based on his very poor record? Obama with disastrous record or no record at all, vs Gov. Rick Perry, a giant successful third term governor of a great state, with 13th biggest economy in the world, who has military, governing and legislative experience; plus, Perry is naturally charismatic and powerful leader, and his policies are bold and visionary!! A commander in chief indeed.

  • Leave a comment


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