“If all else fails, if after all of the work we’ve done, there’s nothing else we could do besides take military action. Then of course you take military action,” Romney said.
Gingrich agreed: “If in the end, despite all of those things, the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.”
Former Godfather’s Pizza chief executive Herman Cain said he would assist the opposition, but “would not entertain military opposition.”
Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he would impose economic sanctions on Iran’s central bank — a move the Obama administration has backed away from, for fear of the economic damage that might occur if it disrupted international oil markets.
The report issued last week by the IAEA, which is the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, suggested that Iran has been conducting secret experiments “relevant to the development of the nuclear device.”
It is the most detailed and alarming analysis yet of the regime’s efforts, and the Obama administration is considering imposing sanctions on Iran as a result; Iran has called the report a fabrication.
The debate at Wofford College was the 10th among the GOP contenders since May. It was sponsored by CBS News and National Journal.
Although the candidates trained most of their fire on the current commander in chief, differences emerged among the Republican contenders on multiple fronts, including U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and on the use of harsh interrogation tactics that many have labeled torture.
Romney criticized Obama for looking to withdraw troops from Afghanistan before the end of next year, suggesting that the president’s September timetable was influenced by the election calendar.
However, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman Jr. said he would bring an immediate end to all but a small troop presence.
“I say it’s time to come home,” Huntsman said.
Huntsman, who also served as the Obama administration’s ambassador to China, added: “This nation’s future is not Afghanistan. This nation’s future is not Iraq.” The more significant focus, he said, should be preparing the United States to compete with the emerging economic powers of Asia.
On a number of issues, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who has long urged a more isolationist foreign policy, disagreed with the rest of the Republicans, urging the U.S. not to intervene in conflicts abroad.