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article imageGOP debaters united against Obama, but widely apart on issues

By Joan Firstenberg     Nov 13, 2011 in Politics
Spartanburg - The eight Republican candidates for president who participated in Saturday night's debate showed unity in their aversion to President Obama's policies. But on key foreign policy issues, they revealed their acute differences.
The debate's most contentious moments occurred around an issue that was hot during President George Bush's administration: torture. An online questioner asked whether or not the candidates supported interrogation techniques that are now prohibited by the Obama administration.
Atlanta businessman Herman Cain spoke up first,
"I believe in following the procedures that have been established by our military. I do not agree with torture, period. However, I will trust the judgment of our military leaders to determine what is torture and what is not torture."
Rep. Ron Paul said he was opposed to the practice of torture, specifically water-boarding, calling it immoral, impractical and un-American. Former Gov. Jon Huntsman, agreed, saying torture did serious damage to America's reputation abroad.
"This country has values. We have a name-brand in the world."
But Rep. Michele Bachmann said she would support Cain's position.
"I would be willing to use water-boarding."
Mauldin Patch reports that when it came to troop reduction in Afghanistan, Huntsman said it should be significant and soon.
"I take a different approach on Afghanistan. I say it's time to come home. I say this nation has achieved its key objectives in Afghanistan. We had free elections in 2004, we uprooted the Taliban, we have dismantled Al Qaeda, and we've killed Osama Bin Laden. I say this nation's future is not Afghanistan. This nation's future is not Iraq. This nation's future is how prepared we are to meet the 21st century's competitive challenges. That's economics, that's education. I don't want to be nation-building in Afghanistan when this nation so needs to be built."
CBS News reports that at one point, Cain questioned the country's true intentions in the war on terror, After that, Perry offered to start with a "zero" foreign aid budget, which would change only after "conversations" with countries vying for U.S. dollars.
Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich both agreed that they would be willing to go to war to keep Iran from attaining nuclear weapons if all other strategies failed. Romney proposed that if "crippling sanctions" and other strategies fail, military action would be on the table because it is "unacceptable" for Iran to become a nuclear power.
Gingrich agreed, saying that if
"maximum covert operations" and other strategies failed there would be no other choice. First, though, the United States should consider "taking out their scientists," and "breaking up their systems, all of it covertly, all of it deniable."
Romney warned,
"If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."
Ron Paul heartily disagreed with his two rivals, stressing the need to go to Congress before taking military action and saying it isn't worthwhile to use military force against Iran.
"I'm afraid what's going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq."
For most of the debate, Romney steered clear of any infighting. But at one point when moderator Major Garrett, tried to get Gingrich to evaluate Romney on whether he was creative enough to formulate "out of the box" solutions for this country, Gingrich didn't take the bait, saying
"We're here tonight talking to the American people about how every single one of us is better than Barack Obama."
The debate also had a moment of contentiousness and humor. When Perry was asked about his stance to eliminate the Department of Energy, it was a direct reference to Perry's major gaffe at the last debate. Moderator Scott Pelley said,
Perry answered to loud laughter and applause,
"Glad you remembered it".
Pelley said,
"I've had some time to think about it sir."
Perry responded,
"So have I."
Herman Cain holds a narrow lead among GOP primary voters in the CBS News poll released Friday, with 18 percent of the vote, but he has seen his support weaken in the wake of revelations that he has been accused of sexual misconduct by four women.
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