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Herman Cain backs waterboarding, frets over 'Arab Spring' at GOP debate

November 12, 2011|By James Oliphant
  • Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the CBS News/National Journal foreign policy debate in Spartanburg, S.C.
Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain speaks at the CBS News/National… (Richard Shiro / Associated…)

Herman Cain, who struggled at times during Saturday’s national security-focused debate in South Carolina, found one issue on which he apparently feels comfortable: waterboarding.

Cain said, if elected president, he would revive the now banned practice.

“I don’t see it as torture. I see it as an enhanced interrogation technique,” Cain said.

Cain had a lot of support at the CBS News/National Journal debate at Wofford College in Spartanburg, S.C., for bringing back the procedure.

Michele Bachmann also criticized President Obama for eliminating the controversial practice. Obama, she said, “is allowing the ACLU to run the CIA,” adding that "it's as though we’ve decided we want to lose the war on terror under President Obama.”

Rick Santorum and Rick Perry favored a return to waterboarding, as well, with Perry becoming especially exercised. “This is war,” he said. “This is what happens in war.” He said he would be for using the procedure “until I die.”

To little surprise, Ron Paul disagreed. “Torture is illegal by our laws, and it is torture by international laws. Waterboarding is torture,” Paul said, adding that he considered it “immoral and impractical.”

Cain was also highly critical of the Obama administration approach to the "Arab Spring" uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Cain said the situations in Egypt, Libya and Yemen had “gotten completely out of hand," and he criticized Obama for not supporting former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and for calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen to step aside.

Newt Gingrich, to whom Cain deferred on several occasions, also seemed concerned about the uprisings.

“The degree to which the Arab Spring might become an anti-Christian spring is something that bothers me a great deal,” he said.

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