'Humane' immigration policy: Is Newt Gingrich the next Rick Perry? (video)
Newt Gingrich said in Tuesday's presidential debate that he couldn't imagine deporting illegal immigrants who have been in the US a long time. When Rick Perry said something similar, his collapse began.
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Gingrich advisers attending the debate said their candidate hadn’t shied away from taking what he believes is a pro-family stance on immigration, and they said the debate should only enhance the perception among Republican voters that Gingrich has a command of the issues.Skip to next paragraph
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“I’m sure what he said [on immigration] will ruffle some feathers, but overall people will see he has a grasp of foreign-policy issues, which is what this debate was about,” said Ilan Berman, a Gingrich foreign-policy adviser.
The moments of sharp disagreement in Tuesday night’s debate – the 11th of the campaign – suggests a lack of Republican unity on how to take on an incumbent Democratic president who achieves some of his best marks with American voters on foreign-policy issues.
When Mr. Romney outlined a plan for Afghanistan that would leave more US troops there for longer than Obama's own plan, Jon Huntsman Jr., a former ambassador to China, shot back, “I totally disagree,” adding he would bring troops home faster and spend the savings on rebuilding America.
“We don’t need 100,000 troops,” Mr. Huntsman said.
“This is not the time for America to cut and run,” Romney retorted.
The candidates said surprisingly little about China, focusing more attention on Iran.
Romney said he would impose “crippling sanctions” on Iran, repeating a formula used in the past by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. Herman Cain, the former pizza chief executive, said he would assist Israel in attacking Iran provided the Israelis presented a credible attack plan – something he said would be difficult given Iran’s “mountainous terrain.”
Gingrich said the focus of any viable Iran policy must be not simply addressing the nuclear program but arriving at the real solution, which he defined as “replacing the regime.”
Syria was also cause for disagreement. Perry took the opportunity to tout his proposal for a no-fly zone over Syria – an idea Romney appeared to belittle. Noting that the Syrian regime is not bombing its own citizens but is using its 5,000 tanks against them, he sniffed, “A no-fly zone wouldn’t be the right military action – maybe a no-drive zone.”
Even foreign aid surfaced as a source of disunity. Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania chided his fellow candidates for advocating cuts to foreign aid, saying short-term reductions in international development and health programs including AIDS funding would lead to “a lot more spending on the military” in the long run.
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