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GOP Debate Recap – President Obama, Waterboarding, Foreign Aid [VIDEO]

gop-debate-cbs
CBS News

In the latest of what seems like an endless string of debates, the candidates for the GOP nomination for president in the 2012 election went head-to-head yet again on Saturday night, this time in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

Dubbed the ‘Commander-in-Chief Debate’ and sponsored by CBS News and National Journal, it was the first of the cycle to appear on network television and to focus on foreign policy.

“We’re here tonight talking about how every one of us is better than President Obama,” said Newt Gingrich. While the former Speaker of the House, whose poll numbers for the nomination have recently surged, has been critical of GOP frontrunner and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in the past, he declined to pass judgment on his rival during the debate.

For his part, Romney said that only his administration could prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. “If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon,” he said. “And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you’d like me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.”

Questioned about the controversial interrogation technique known as waterboarding, the candidates’ opinions were split. Businessman Herman Cain, who’s been plagued by a sexual harassment scandal in recent weeks, said he doesn’t consider waterboarding a form of torture, deeming it an “enhanced interrogation technique.” Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann concurred, calling it “very effective.”

But Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman disagreed. Paul said waterboarding is both “immoral” and “impractical,” and Huntsman added, “We diminish our standing in the world and the values that we project, which include liberty, democracy, human rights and open markets, when we torture.”

And on the issue of foreign aid, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would cut the United States’ foreign aid budget to zero, allocating taxpayer dollars depending on a country’s support for America, a sentiment echoed by Gingrich.

“Consider the alternative,” Gingrich said. “You’re giving some country $7 billion a year. You start off… every year and say here’s your $3 billion, now I’ll start thinking? You ought to start off at zero and say, explain to me why I should give you a penny.”

Watch a post-debate analysis by CBS News political director John Dickerson:

[CBS News]

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