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Their questions, their take on the answers

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(CNN) -- Just like the questions in Wednesday night's Republican debate, the post-show analysis started in the living rooms, dorm rooms and at least one basement TV studio of the people watching the fireworks on screen.


Conner Tipping, weighing in from Iowa, was glad to see "real debate" but questioned some candidate tactics.

CNN asked YouTube questioners and I-Report contributors watching the debate at home what they thought. Who did the best? Results were mixed: several I-Reporters praised former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee's one-liners, but Sen. John McCain, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney all scored points with the YouTube and I-Report groups.

Conner Tipping, an I-Report contributor and student at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, said he thought McCain's answers about illegal immigration and torture took "the moral high ground" in the debate, while Mark McSweeney of Henniker, New Hampshire, said he hadn't heard about Huckabee until the debate but thought he had "some great stuff."

Several commented on the format of the debate itself, praising the fireworks between Romney and Giuliani at the beginning of the night and complaining that they hadn't heard enough from each candidate.

Sgt. Shaphan Richardson, a U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea, called the exchange between Giuliani and Romney the most interesting part of the night. "I wanted to hear more," he said.

Donna Isenhower, on the other hand, said she hadn't heard enough from each of the candidates to make a decision. The title of her video: "What was THAT?" Video Hear what the I-Reporters had to say about the debate »

A handful of YouTube users whose questions had been picked for the debate watched the event as part of the live audience in St. Petersburg, Florida, and shared their thoughts on how the candidates did. Reactions overall were mixed, but most said what they'd heard would influence their vote. See what YouTube questioners thought about the candidates' answers »

Of course, many of the I-Report contributors who responded to the GOP debate did it the old-fashioned way: through e-mail. Below is a collection of their responses, some of which have been edited for length and clarity.

Douglas Berube of Salem, New Hampshire
To find a good candidate, I make a list of all the things I have to tear down from their image, and yet still appreciate about them, including: humor, wit, insults, smooth talk, and charm. Only after these minor characteristics are torn down will a candidate's true colors show. I base my decision of a winner on, not just the amount of spotlight or applause he gets, but the message he delivers. With that being said, it is undoubtedly Congressman Ron Paul. His message is so clear.

Barbara Joyce of Albuquerque, New Mexico
I thought this was a debate about politics and issues for president, not for a religious leader, so what was that about all the questions about religion, which is none of my business nor is it any of their business about my religious beliefs. terrible

Anthony Cancel of Dallas, Texas
Dear CNN, Out of 4000 questions submitted -- I am a little disappointed in your choices to ask the candidates. I couldn't believe that there wasn't a single question or mention about global warming or the environment. As big an issue as it is, how can you not get a question in about that subject or, for that matter, a question on energy usage and new sources of energy?

Nancy Kolger of Richmond, Indiana
I am a 67-year-old widow. I am clearly disappointed about the questions chosen tonight for the candidates to answer. As a senior citizen I am really disappointed that not one question was asked about health care and rising drug costs for all the people. I can send you an e-mail response and/or question but I do not know how to take or send a video or download and all that other stuff that younger people do. So therefore I was not given the chance to ask a question and I feel this is a form of discrimination or else lack of CNN taking the time to scan through e-mails as they have obviously done with videos. Next time I hope you will consider the fact that a lot of the citizens/voters of this country do not know how to use all this modern stuff and it would be nice if you just had a senior citizen debate with the candidates; and I bet some really good questions besides, wars, gun control, immigration, abortion, gays, etc, would come forth. Like health care, drug expenses, gas prices, feeding, clothing, and housing the elderly, more American jobs, etc. Thank you!

Anonymous from Washington
I am a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. I served as a platoon leader, and am now working at the battalion level and am about to make the rank of captain. I ask that you not use my name because I am active duty. In response to the candidates' remarks on gays in the military, not a single one will get my vote. Sen. McCain said he has talked to the leaders in the Army, the generals. These are not the people to talk to on this issue; the people to talk to are the lieutenants, the captains and the sergeants. They are the ones who serve with these soldiers. They are the ones who see how these soldiers serve. Openly gay soldiers should not be discriminated against. They do not damage morale; they do not damage the ability of a unit to fight. Years ago, the ability of women to fight was questioned, yet now we are in a war where there is no battle line, everywhere is the front line. I've lost friends both on the FOB and outside, both men AND women.

Margaret Giles of Fort Walton Beach, Florida
Although the debate has covered a lot of hot topics such as Iraq, gay marriage, immigration, abortion and such, I was a bit disappointed to see that NOT person or candidate even brought up stem cell research. Is this not as big a deal as putting a man on Mars or fixing highway infrastructures!? I think they could have covered more important topics like stem cell research than "Do you believe every single word of the Bible?"

Dennis Wolcott of Vermilion, Ohio
Why do we focus on abortion, religion and gun rights when theses issues are debated every 4 years and never seem to change. In truth, these issues are polarizing talking points that eat at people emotionally. Please discuss real issues that matter to all of us: Fair trade, paying down debt, trade deficits, mortgage credit crunch, etc. Maybe someone could explain why NAFTA does not seem to be working or why our children are now being taught to pass an achievement test instead of fundamentals.

Stephen Farley of San Francisco, California
The bravery of the brigadier general in the audience was the highlight of the evening.

Mike Lamprecht of New York, New York
Whatever happened to separation of church and state? I don't think our candidates should be asked if they believe in the bible. Religious views are private personal beliefs and should remain private. Isn't that the basis of this country's creation?

Robert Semands of Edmond, Oklahoma
This is the best debate so far. I have enjoyed the in-your-face energy from all the candidates. The moderator, while doing a generally good job, has really short-changed Ron Paul, Tom Tancredo and Duncan Hunter. Ron Paul is the only candidate on that stage that understands the Constitution and adequately represents it. We all needed to hear much more from him.

Muriel Sims of Fort Worth, Texas
No he [Mitt Romney] didn't invoke the name of Bill Cosby! People living in the "inner city" (code for Black communities) are no less moral than anyone else. But men have a very hard time staying if they cannot work. My stepfather was in my life, but he worked all his life too. What man wants to sit around feeling helpless while his child cries in hunger? Why do you think the "inner city" father is any less sympathetic than the people who can afford to employ illegal aliens in his home?

Frank Richmond of Wichita, Kansas
I'm amazed to hear all these well-fed people who have never felt any pain talking about what is or isn't torture. If you kicked in any of these candidates' doors, dragged them out of bed naked, threw them in a cell for a few days, then tied them upside down to a board with a wet towel around their head and started hosing them down, they would think it was torture.

They might think it's necessary on occasion, but at least be man enough to call it what it is.

Mary Tarkington of Wilsonville, Oregon
"Do you believe what the bible says?" PLEEEASE! These people are running for president, not Pope!

Mike G. of Chicago, Illinois
This debate proves nothing more than the GOP is the God-centric party. Not everyone believes that the USA should be as religiously focused as it is. After hearing the candidates, I feel they cannot relate to my religious views, which are different than theirs.

Jeff Stevens of Peekskill, New York
As a member of the U.S. Army, it greatly offends me to hear John McCain say things like "Our troops want to finish the job." I have never in my few years as a young Soldier in both an active duty and reserve component heard anyone say such things. It is a soldier's job to be neutral and fulfill the duties that the American people task us with. I think it is wrong to fool the American people into thinking that soldiers actually enjoy the brutal environment in Iraq and wish to stay there.

Bobby Schechinger of La Vista, Nebraska
During the immigration debate I felt that nobody really hit the true points of dealing with illegal immigrants. It was turning into a fistfight with words and bashing their opponents ideas and saying "he's an idiot, don't vote for him!"


Sarah Soltesz of Palm Harbor, Florida
When Romney replied to Giuliani about the illegal immigrants that he has employed at his mansion, he responded with "do I ask people who have an accent to see their green card?". I would have replied that if he was employing them legally he would have to gather that information it states clearly on an application are you a legal US citizen? Can you show the correct paper (green card) that you are legally able to work in the US? As an employer you have the right to ask this of your employee.

Tim Lamb of Waynesville, Ohio
This is a stupid format. What is next? Dancing with the Presidential Candidates!! The Great Presidential Race!! Presidential Idol!! Give me a break. How about a serious format? E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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