SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Republican presidential hopefuls criticized President Barack Obama's efforts to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions Saturday night, but disagreed in campaign debate whether the United States would be justified in a pre-emptive military strike.
"If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon," the former Massachusetts governor declared.
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich quickly agreed, saying that if all other steps failed, "you have to take whatever steps are necessary" to prevent the Islamic regime from gaining a nuclear weapon.
Rep. Ron Paul of Texas just as quickly disagreed with the idea that a president would order an attack. He said if America's security is threatened the president must ask Congress for a formal declaration of war before taking military action.
The question was the first in a 90-minute debate devoted to defense and foreign policy, an event that brought eight would-be commanders-in-chief together on a debate stage for the second time in less than a week.
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