Experience: Current member of House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Positions: Michele Bachmann’s most strident foreign policy comments have been on immigration. She opposes providing security and health care for illegal immigrants and has spoken out about “end[ing] this anchor baby program.” She supports maintaining troop levels in Afghanistan and would reinstate waterboarding, which she has called “very effective.”
Some of her foreign policy positions, such as warnings about Hezbollah installing missile sites in Cuba, border on conspiracy theory, which analysts at Foreign Policy says might turn off voters outside her Tea Party base.
Herman Cain – DROPPED OUT
Experience: No foreign policy experience.
Positions: A Navy veteran and a business executive with a background in mathematics, Herman Cain has been criticized for his lack of coherent positions and understanding of foreign policy issues. He has refused to state a position on Afghanistan until he’s in the White House and says his top foreign policy position is to “stand united with Israel,” even if that means attacking Iran to protect the country. He believes the existing immigration laws are sufficient, but more enforcement power is necessary, he said. He advocates an electrified wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Experience: Involved with U.S. interventions in Bosnia, Kuwait and Kosovo as former U.S. Speaker of the House (1995-1999); he holds a Ph.D. in modern European history; he was a history scholar at American Enterprise Institute and speaks French. First elected to Congress in 1978.
Positions: With his foreign policy experience and historical research, Newt Gingrich is considered the most intellectual of the candidates. He stands out from the rest of the GOP crowd with his position on immigration. He advocates a path to legal residency for some illegal immigrants who have established roots in the United States.
He is distrustful of Pakistan, favoring cutting aid to the country, and says that the United States should maintain troop levels in Afghanistan. Gingrich has repeatedly spoken about the threat posed by radical Sharia law to the U.S. and says he fears the Arab Spring becoming an “anti-Christian spring.”
Jon Huntsman Jr.
Experience: Ambassador to Singapore under George H. W. Bush; ambassador to China under Barack Obama; fluent in Mandarin.
Positions: Having served two ambassadorships, Jon Huntsman is considered to have the most foreign policy experience of all the candidates. He stands out in his wanting to immediately withdraw from Afghanistan, leaving only special forces, intelligence gathering, and trainers behind.
He believes in tightening relations with China in order to stabilize North Korea. He wants counter-terrorism to be a larger part of foreign policy, but he does not support the use of torture. He says he would also engage more with Latin American countries, especially when it comes to drug trafficking.
Experience: Has served on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs since 2002; spent time in Ethiopia, Iran, Pakistan and others as a flight surgeon in the Air Force in the ’60s.
Positions: Ron Paul favors a more isolationist strategy for the U.S., arguing Obama should not have intervened in Libya. He has called for immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan and the opening up of travel and trade with Cuba. He opposes amnesty for illegal immigrants and has proposed changing the 14th Amendment, which automatically grants citizenship to anyone born in the U.S.
One of his most controversial positions is on Iran. Paul says the threat of Iran has been “blown out of proportion” and that we should offer friendship instead. His stance is similar on North Korea. “It is just preposterous to think the North Koreans are a threat,” he said. “I think they are just playing cat and mouse. I think they are laughing.”
Experience: Governor of Texas since 2000; worked closely with Latin American countries as governor of Texas; lived in Germany and Saudi Arabia when serving in the Air Force in the ’70s; speaks some Spanish.
Positions: Rick Perry has been criticized by other candidates for signing into law in Texas a version of the Dream Act, which gives children of illegal immigrants who meet certain conditions in-state college tuition. He has, however, also advocated for fencing off some high-traffic border areas as part of his immigration policy.
Perry received attention when he announced he would send in the military to fight drug cartels in Mexico. He is not in favor of immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan, has defended waterboarding and wants to increase high-tech special operations to combat terrorism. Perry says he would support an Israeli air strike on Iran because, “we cannot afford to allow that madman in Iran to get his hands on a nuclear weapon, period.”
Experience: Lived abroad as a Mormon missionary in France; fluent in French; chaired the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics organizing committee.
Positions: Mitt Romney’s foreign policy position is more developed than most of his competitors due to his 2008 presidential run. His approach rests on two goals: defeat the “jihadists” and compete with Asia. High defense spending, close ties with Israel, and tighter border security also put him squarely in line with the standard Republican position. When it comes to Afghanistan, Romney has said he would leave it to top military commanders to make the decisions.
He advocates a tougher stance with China on trade, including making more trade complaints, demanding an end to currency manipulation and ensuring the Chinese markets are welcoming to U.S. goods. Iran is America’s “greatest immediate threat,” Romney said. He has advocated “comprehensive, withering sanctions” and says using military strikes remains an option.
Experience: Eight years on the Senate Armed Services Committee; fluent in Italian.
Positions: Rick Santorum’s foreign policy positions are influenced by his Christian faith and neoconservative point of view. He has said the U.S. has a moral responsibility to fight “godless socialism” and that China is a potential threat to the United States. Santorum argues for robust military spending and not withdrawing from Afghanistan. Unlike most of the other candidates, however, Santorum defends aid to Pakistan. He says he would support an Israeli air strike on Iran, and until that happens, he said he wants, “the most draconian sanctions that [he] can think of.”