Positions of GOP Candidates on Terrorism, Immigration, Other Security Issues

WASHINGTON (AP) — A look at where the 2012 Republican presidential candidates stand on a selection of issues.

They are Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Utah Gov. John Huntsman, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.


Bachmann: Expand Guantanamo, no Miranda or constitutional rights for foreign terrorist suspects. "I would be willing to use waterboarding," now banned, in interrogations.

Gingrich: Supports extending and strengthening investigative powers of Patriot Act. Supports continued use of Guantanamo Bay detention for suspected terrorists. Supported creation of Homeland Security apparatus, because "we need some capacity to respond to massive events." In 2009, said of waterboarding:"It’s not something we should do."

Huntsman: Said Homeland Security Department has been heavy-handed, conveying a "fortress security mentality that is not American." Says on interrogations: "We should not torture. Waterboarding is torture."

Paul: Opposes the surveillance and search powers of the Patriot Act. Says terrorists would not be motivated to attack America if the U.S. ended its military presence abroad. "The Patriot Act is unpatriotic because it undermines our liberty." Says: "Waterboarding is torture. And it’s illegal under international law and under our law. It’s also immoral. And it’s also very impractical. There’s no evidence that you really get reliable evidence."

Perry: Said it was "unprincipled" for Republicans to vote for creation of the Homeland Security Department. Supports continued use of Guantanamo Bay detention for suspected terrorists and extension of Patriot Act. Would seek to privatize Transportation Security Administration and decertify its unions. Said U.S. interrogators should "use any technique that they can" short of torture, which he did not define.

Romney: No constitutional rights for foreign terrorism suspects. In 2007, refused to rule out use of waterboarding to interrogate terrorist suspects. In 2011, his campaign says he does not consider waterboarding to be torture.

Santorum: Defends creation of Homeland Security Department as an attempt to fix a "complete mess" in the domestic security apparatus. Voted to reauthorize Patriot Act. Says airport screeners should employ profiling; "Muslims would be someone you’d look at, absolutely." Supports continued use of Guantanamo Bay detention for suspected terrorists. Says waterboarding has proved effective.


Bachmann: "Defense spending did not cause our budget crisis and we must maintain our military strength." Opposed U.S. intervention in Libya, saying the effort might be helping terrorists there. Called Afghanistan a war "we must and can win" provided generals have sufficient troops and money.

Gingrich: Initially criticized Obama for not intervening in Libya, then did an about-face after the president had sent in U.S. war planes to support the rebels fighting the government. "I would not have used American and European forces." No cuts in defense spending except waste. Supported Iraq war and opposed early timetables for withdrawal. Praised Obama’s decision to bolster troops in Afghanistan two years ago; noncommittal this year on when and how they should withdraw, but opposes "precipitous" pullout.

Huntsman: Proposes scaling back U.S. involvement in international conflicts and, in contrast with most rivals, says Pentagon budget should be cut. Opposes U.S. military assistance of new Libyan government. Opposed U.S. military intervention in Libya absent congressional approval. Says no more than 15,000 U.S. troops should be left in Afghanistan. Says to end nation building abroad "when this nation needs to be built."

Paul: Bring all or nearly all troops home, from Afghanistan and other foreign posts, "as quick as the ships could get there." Opposed U.S. intervention in Libya. "We’ve been fighting wars since World War II, technically in an unconstitutional fashion." Cut Pentagon budget.

Perry: Criticized Obama for announcing withdrawal of troops from Iraq by end of this year and from Afghanistan next year but has not said how many troops should remain or for how long.

Romney: Has not specified the troop numbers behind his pledge to ensure the "force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully" in Afghanistan. "This is not time for America to cut and run." Said Obama was wrong to begin reducing troop levels as soon as he did. Would increase strength of armed forces, including number of troops and warships.

Santorum: Said in September 2011 that 20,000 to 30,000 U.S. troops should remain in Iraq. Says U.S. troops should withdraw from Afghanistan "a little slower" than Obama is planning. "When we engage in Iraq and Afghanistan, we engage because we want to be successful. We want victory." In May, accused Obama of creating a "morass" because he let the international community take the lead in Libya. Opposes closure of U.S. bases abroad. "We have to have the ability to confront those threats from around the world, which means we need basing around the world."


Bachmann: Favors fence all along the 1,900-mile U.S.-Mexico border, not just the 650 miles built at a cost of $2.6 billion. Opposes government benefits for illegal immigrants and their children.

Gingrich: In contrast to most rivals, supports giving legal status to illegal immigrants who have sunk roots in the U.S. and lived otherwise lawfully. "If you’ve been here 25 years and you got three kids and two grandkids, you’ve been paying taxes and obeying the law, you belong to a local church, I don’t think we’re going to separate you from your family, uproot you forcefully and kick you out." Supports path to citizenship for illegal immigrants’ children who perform U.S. military service. Make English the official language. Divert more Homeland Security assets to fighting illegal immigration at Mexican border.

Huntsman: Unrealistic to deport all illegal immigrants. Says a fence is probably a necessary step to securing the border even though "the thought of a fence to some extent repulses me, because it is not consistent with the image that we projected to the rest of the world." In Utah, threatened to veto a bill to repeal cheaper in-state college tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants.

Paul: Do "whatever it takes" to secure the border, end the right to citizenship of U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants, no social services for illegal immigrants, aggressive deportation of those who overstay a visa or otherwise break U.S. law.

Perry: Opposes complete U.S.-Mexico border fence, which he calls "idiocy," instead wants more border agents. Supports continued U.S. citizenship for U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. Illegal immigrants can get in-state tuition at Texas universities if they meet other residency requirements. Neither employers nor state agencies required to run job applicants through a federal database to determine their legal status. Illegal immigrants have access to services for drug treatment, mental health and children with special health care needs.

Romney: Favors complete U.S.-Mexico border fence, opposes education benefits to illegal immigrants. Proposes more visas for holders of advanced degrees in math, science and engineering who have U.S. job offers, and would award permanent residency to foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools with a degree in those fields.

Santorum: Supports complete border fence, opposes letting children of illegal immigrants qualify for cheaper in-state tuition and says federal government should not require states to offer any social services to illegal immigrants. Favors making English the official language.


Bachmann: Reduce regulatory impediments to drilling. Voted to open the outer continental shelf to oil drilling. Voted against tax breaks for renewable energy and conservation.

Gingrich: Let oil and natural gas industries drill offshore reserves now blocked from development, end restrictions on Western oil shale development. In Alaska alone, "We could liberate an area the size of Texas for minerals and other development."

Huntsman: Used tax credits to promote clean energy in Utah but says he has learned that "subsidies don’t work and that we can no longer afford them." Favors phasing out all energy subsidies and cutting regulatory obstacles to drilling and production. Says nation’s fuel distribution network should be subject to Federal Trade Commission and Senate Judiciary Committee review because it gives oil an unfair advantage over natural gas. "We need to break oil’s monopoly as a transportation fuel, and create a truly level playing field for competing fuels."

Paul: Remove restrictions on drilling, coal and nuclear power, eliminate gasoline tax, provide tax credits for alternative fuel technology.

Perry: Proposes authorizing more development on federal lands and slashing regulations to spur drilling in restricted areas and open off-limits waters and lands to production, including the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and the Southern Atlantic and Alaskan outer continental shelves. Opposes federal restrictions on natural gas production, including environmentally risky fracturing techniques and horizontal drilling.

Romney: Accelerate drilling permits in areas where exploration has already been approved for developers with good safety records. Supports drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, Atlantic and Pacific outer continental shelves, Western lands, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and offshore Alaska; and supports exploitation of shale oil deposits. Reduce obstacles to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy development. Says green power has yet to become viable.

Santorum: Favors drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and scaling back "oppressive regulation" hindering drilling elsewhere.


Bachmann: Voted for $192 billion in stimulus spending in July 2009; voted against two earlier stimulus packages totaling nearly $900 billion and against housing aid and auto-industry aid. Opposed extension of jobless benefits. "Government overregulation is the single biggest jobs killer." Repeal the financial-industry regulations enacted in response to the subprime housing crisis.

Gingrich: Repeal the 2010 financial industry and consumer protection regulations that followed the Wall Street meltdown, and repeal the 2002 regulations enacted in response to the Enron and other corporate and accounting scandals. Restrict the Fed’s power to set interest rates artificially low. Make work training a condition of unemployment insurance and have states run it.

Huntsman: End corporate subsidies, cut regulations, lower taxes, spur jobs through energy development, seek repeal of President Barack Obama’s health care law. Break up megabanks as a hedge against future bailouts of the industry.

Paul: Return to the gold standard, eliminate the Federal Reserve, let gold and silver be used as legal tender, eliminate most federal regulations.

Perry: Spur economy by repealing rafts of regulations, Obama’s health care law and the law (Dodd-Frank) toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector. Create jobs in energy sector by removing obstacles to drilling and production. Cut corporate taxes.

Romney: Lower taxes, less regulation, balanced budget, more trade deals to spur growth. Replace jobless benefits with unemployment savings accounts. Proposes repeal of the law (Dodd-Frank) toughening financial-industry regulations after the meltdown in that sector. Proposes changing, but not repealing, the (Sarbanes-Oxley) law tightening accounting regulations in response to corporate scandals, to ease the accountability burden on smaller businesses. "We don’t want to tell the world that Republicans are against all regulation. No, regulation is necessary to make a free market work. But it has to be updated and modern."

Santorum: Spur jobs by eliminating corporate taxes for manufacturers, drill for more oil and gas, and slash regulations. "Repeal every regulation the Obama administration has put in place that’s over $100 million. Repeal them all. You may haveto replace a few, but let’s repeal them all because they are allantagonistic to businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector."

Associated Press writers Brian Bakst and Chris Tomlinson contributed to this report.

Copyright 2011 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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