Republicans argue over who supports the surge the most in NH debate

 In Election 2008

This weekend, the top six Republican candidates for president squared off in preparation for Tuesday’s NH primary. While the candidates have chosen at times to distance themselves from the Bush administration’s unpopular policies, in this debate they mostly declared support  for pieces of President Bush’s misguided foreign policy. Mike Huckabee, winner of last week’s Iowa caucus, even attempted to attack Mitt Romney with the accusation that he had supported a “timed withdrawal” from Iraq. Romney was quick to dispute that claim:

I do not support and have never supported a timed withdrawal, so that’s wrong, Governor.

You know, it’s really helpful if you talk about your policies and the things you believe, and let me talk about my policies.

And my policy is, I’ve never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That’s not the case. Simply wrong.

I’ve also supported the troop surge, Governor, and I supported it on the same day the president brought it forward.

And the critical thing here is for us to stand together and to say, "I think we do agree with the troop surge. We believe that the troops surge is going to make an enormous difference for the world and protect us from the establishment of safe havens from which Al Qaida could launch attacks against us."

McCain and Huckabee also declared support for the surge, with Huckabee clarifying that his previous characterization of Bush’s foreign policy as “arrogant” was a because Huckabee believed that the US should have sent more troops into Iraq initially. Rep. Ron Paul attempted to reframe the issue, highlighting that US foreign policy causes anger and fear in the rest of the world, motivating others to want to retaliate against the US, but he was promptly attacked by the rest of the candidates on the stage.

The candidates have been pushing this message in campaign appearances leading up to the primary. Senator McCain gained some attention earlier this week when he stated his support for staying in Iraq for “a hundred years” at a town hall meeting in Derry, NH:

Statements like these give us a clear picture of what is at stake in this critical election year.

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