GOP Contenders: Extend Anti-terror Patriot Act

By: Philip Elliott, Associated Press
By: Philip Elliott, Associated Press

GOP Contenders Square Off on Immigration

Washington, D.C. (AP) - The Republican presidential hopefuls are
debating how to deal with the nation's illegal immigrants,
differing on how to deal with millions of people already in the
United States.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that he wouldn't
"expel" those who have come illegally but have made lives in the
U.S. He says that the GOP cannot call itself a party for family
when it separates parents from their children born in the U.S.

Rep. Michele Bachmann says that allowing illegal immigrants to
stay is a form of amnesty. She and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt
Romney say benefits for illegal immigrants attract others.

But Romney adds he wants to encourage immigration, especially
among those educated at U.S. colleges.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the priority should be securing the


Republicans Take Issue with Cuts to Defense Budget

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Republican presidential hopefuls are assailing plans to cut the defense budget.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney says the cuts are
undermining troop capacity, delaying the building of aircraft carriers and cutting the capacity of the U.S. to defend itself.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says that even Defense Secretary Leon
Panetta opposes the cuts. He says if Panetta is "an honorable
man," he should resign in protest.

The Pentagon is already facing $450 billion in cuts to projected
spending over the next 10 years, an amount that could more than
double beginning in 2013 under automatic cuts established by the
failure of the deficit-reduction supercommittee.

Two others at Tuesday night's GOP candidate debate, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul, refused to say defense spending would be off
limits to budget cuts.


Gingrich: Cutting Off Gasoline Would Contain Iran

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich says the United States could "break Iran within a year" if allies worked together on a strategy instead of focusing on specific

Gingrich says that ending gasoline sales to Iran and sabotaging
its refineries would lead to regime change and end its nuclear
ambitions. The former House speaker says the world must change
regimes in Tehran before Iran acquires a nuclear weapon.

Other Republican presidential candidates debating in Washington
Tuesday night had different views of how to deal with Iran's
aggressive nuclear program.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says he favors sanction on Iran's central

Businessman Herman Cain says he would support an Israeli
military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities only if he were
convinced it would work.


Romney, Huntsman Spar Over Afghanistan Policy

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Jon Huntsman says the United States has achieved important goals in Afghanistan and that it's time to bring home most of the military forces to focus on rebuilding the American economy.

During the foreign policy debate Tuesday night among GOP
candidates for president, Huntsman said he would leave behind as
many as 15,000 forces to help Afghans maintain their security.

Huntsman's view is at odds with rival Mitt Romney. The former
Massachusetts governor says the United States has a role to help
Afghanistan so terrorists don't take control.

Romney also says that the U.S. has a responsibility to finish
what it started in Afghanistan.


Bachmann, Perry Clash Over Pakistan Aid

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Minnesota congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Texas Gov. Rick Perry are clashing over whether the United States should continue to provide more than $1 billion in aid to Pakistan.

Perry says that Pakistan has shown "time after time" that it
cannot be trusted and that he would not send the country "one
penny -- period."

Bachmann says Perry's approach is "naive," arguing that the
U.S. needs to have a presence in the region to protect its national
security. She called Pakistan a "violent, unstable nation" with
more than a dozen nuclear sites that could be penetrated.

The Obama administration has said the U.S. relationship with
Islamabad is vital to the nation's national security and has urged
Pakistan to crack down on the Taliban-linked Haqqani network.


GOP Contenders: Extend Anti-terror Patriot Act

Washington, D.C. (AP) - Republican presidential hopefuls supported the anti-terror Patriot Act in campaign debate Tuesday night, saying it should be extended or perhaps strengthened to help identify and capture those who would attack the United States.

Only Rep. Ron Paul of Texas among eight presidential hopefuls dissented, warning that the law is "unpatriotic because it undermines our liberties."

In a debate on national security issues, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said President Barack Obama has "essentially handed over our investigation of terrorists to the" American Civil Liberties Union. "Our CIA has no ability to investigate," she said. Bachmann did not cite any examples to buttress either of her claims.

The debate unfolded six weeks to the day before the Iowa caucuses inaugurate the competition for delegates to the Republican National Convention. The venerable DAR Constitution Hall was the site - a few blocks from the White House and as close as most if not all of the GOP hopefuls are likely to get.

The Patriot Act is one of the nation's principal tools in ferreting out terrorist threats but has often provoked dissents from both liberals and conservatives who argue that in the name of national security it erodes constitutional protections.

Paul made that point, and said other investigative techniques captured Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

Gingrich jumped at that. "That's the whole point. Timothy McVeigh killed a lot of Americans," the former House speaker said. "I don't want a law that says after we lose an entire American city we're going to find you."

Neither Gingrich nor any other Republican mentioned that Obama, like President George W. Bush before him, signed legislation extending the Patriot Act. He did so while traveling in Europe last May, putting him name on a four-year extension of the law that gives the government sweeping powers to search records and conduct wiretaps in pursuit of terrorists.

There was more disagreement when it came to the war in Afghanistan.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said it was time for the United States to withdraw nearly all its troops.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said top generals disagreed with that and asked Huntsman if he was talking about a withdrawal beginning immediately.

"Did you hear what I said?" Huntsman asked across the debate stage, noting that under the Constitution the president is commander in chief. A few moments later, referring to Vietnam, he said a president had listened to the generals in 1967, and the outcome was not in the interests of the United States.

Also on the debate stage were businessman Herman Cain and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.

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