The Republican presidential candidates assembled in Spartanburg, South Carolina, last night for a primary debate, the first to focus entirely on foreign policy and national security. In a dialogue that spanned assorted geopolitical challenges -- including Iran's quest for nuclear weapons, America's strategic relationship with Pakistan, and trade with China -- the eight Republicans outlined the approaches they would take to diplomacy if elected head of state. Here are five of the most notable exchanges:
1. Is torture acceptable under any circumstances? And is water boarding torture?
"I served on an aircraft carrier during the Vietnam War," wrote a veteran in a question submitted via email that was posed to the candidates. "I believe that torture is always wrong in all cases. What is your stance on torture?"
The question was directed first to Herman Cain, who said he opposed torture but would "trust the judgement of our military leaders" to determine what constitutes it, although in his view water boarding was not torture but rather an "enhanced interrogation technique."
Michele Bachmann said that she too "would be willing to use water boarding," which she called "very effective," adding that she believes Obama is "allowing the ACLU to run the CIA."