The first GOP debate aired on a national broadcast network took place Saturday evening from Wofford College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. Eight Republican candidates participated in the debate sponsored by CBS News, The National Journal and the South Carolina Republican Party. The topic of the debate focused primarily on foreign policy.
Original Air Time: Saturday, November 12, 2011 on CBS
Participants: Bachmann, Cain, Gingrich, Huntsman, Paul, Perry, Romney, Santorum
Here is the entire 80 minute debate video including the last 30 minute portion not aired on television by CBS:
Report from the LA Times:
The Republican presidential rivals took on national security policy Saturday night in a South Carolina debate that saw the field splinter over how candidates would deal with Pakistan, foreign aid and waterboarding, but largely united in their view that President Obama has weakened the nation’s standing in the world.
The topic has received scant attention in a campaign in which the dominant focus has been on the nation’s sputtering economy, and it is an area of weakness for several on stage for the latest debate. At times some candidates–notably businessman Herman Cain–glided over specifics. Cain repeatedly told questioners that if elected president he would quiz his advisors about the best course.
The sharpest divide came over whether waterboarding equated to torture, with Texas Rep. Ron Paul and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. arguing that it clearly is–and is beneath the United States.
“This country has values. We have a name brand in the world,” Huntsman said. “We diminish our standing in the world and the values we project, including liberty, democracy and human rights and open markets, when we torture.”
Several others, including Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, disagreed, arguing that waterboarding, which both President Obama and GOP presidential nominee John McCain opposed in 2008, was an effective means of obtaining information from the nation’s enemies.
But Texas Gov. Rick Perry launched the most forceful defense of waterboarding, saying that all means possible should be used to extract information from those who would aim to hurt U.S. service personnel.
Overall I though the discussion and questions were substantive. The only major drawback was CBS’ decision to air only the first 60 minutes on television for East coast viewers. Furthermore, the 60 minute length meant several candidates including Santorum, Paul, Bachmann and Huntsman were not given much face time.