Invisible presence at GOP debate in Iowa: Rick Perry
Eight candidates sparred at the GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, Thursday night. Though Texas Gov. Rick Perry wasn't one of them, his imminent entry into the presidential race changes everything.
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On Iran, Congressman Paul argued against trade sanctions on Iran, repeating the libertarian argument for staying out of other countries’ internal business –even those that are developing nuclear weapons – and for generally getting out of the multiple US military engagements abroad.Skip to next paragraph
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“I say a policy of peace is free trade,” Paul said. “Stay out of their internal business. Don't get involved in these wars and just bring our troops home.”
Santorum jumped on that comment. “Iran is not Iceland, Ron,” he said. “Iran is a country that has been at war with us since 1979.”
Paul was also challenged over his position on marriage, which he believes should not be a federal issue. When asked if he believed it would be OK for a state to allow polygamy, Paul looked exasperated.
“Well, that's sort of like asking the question if the states wanted to legalize slavery, or something like that,” he said. “That is so past reality that no state is going to do that.”
Well,” said Santorum, “it sounds to me like Representative Paul would actually say polygamist marriages are OK.”
Paul has a loyal core of supporters in Iowa and across the country, and could do well in the straw poll. Santorum has struggled to gain traction in the crowded field, and while he did claw his way to some attention in Ames, he could find it difficult to make it to the starting line of the nomination contests early next year, beginning in Iowa.
The other two candidates on the stage, businessman Herman Cain and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., struggled to make much of the debate. Mr. Cain made a splash in the first debate, in May, but has faded a bit since. For Mr. Huntsman, Thursday’s was his first debate and he could have done himself a favor by standing out. But he, like Romney and Gingrich, is not competing in the Ames straw poll, so the stakes aren’t as high on Saturday for him as they are for others.