TRANSCRIPT: The Republican Debate

STEPHANOPOULOS: And I want to turn to that as well. Because we did a poll of Iowa voters, as you saw. And we asked the voters there for questions.

We got more questions on Iraq and the war than any other single subject. Here was one of them.


QUESTION: Hi. I'm Jill Husker (ph) from Grinnell, Iowa. My question is, if you were president, what would be your strategy for ending the war in Iraq?


STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Paul, what would it be?

PAUL: Just come home. We just marched in. We can just come back.


We went in there illegally. We did not declare war. It's lasting way too long. We didn't declare war in Korea or Vietnam. The wars were never really ended. We lose those wars. We're losing this one. We shouldn't be there. We ought to just come home.


The number one reason it's in our national self-interest and for our national security, think of our defenses now, how rundown they are. What is the morale of our military today when they're sent over there for 12 months and then they're kept for another three months?

They come home and, with less than a year's rest, they're sent back again. Congress is currently trying to change the rules so we give these men an adequate rest.

This war is not going well because the foreign policy is defective.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hunter?


HUNTER: Yes, George, I've been here before. I was here when we stood up to the Russians in Central Europe when they were ringing our allies with SS-20 missiles. We stood up them and we finally brought that wall down.

I was here when we did Central America, when the liberals were raging that we had to get out of Salvador. Today, Salvadoran troops are standing side-by-side with Americans in Iraq.

And let me tell you something I'm tired of. I watched the Democrat debate. I watched them say, as my colleague has said, "Just bring them home. Come home." And it was a race to see who could stampede for the exit the quickest.

And you know something? The Marines in Anbar province, which is almost half of Iraq, have turned that situation around. They brought the communities there on our side, fighting back against Al Qaida. Not a single Democrat...


Not a single Democrat candidate paused in their rush for the exit to say to our Marines, "Good job. You guys are fighting and achieving, with blood, sweat and tears, what this country needs."

We've got our best military leadership in Iraq right now. We are standing up the Iraq military, the 129 battalions. When they are stood up, when they're reliable, battle-ready, they rotate onto the battlefield, they displace American heavy combat forces. That's the right way to leave, not a stampede for the exit.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Congressman Hunter, thank you.

So we've got the poles of this debate Governor Huckabee...


I'll come back to you in a second.

We've got the poles of this debate. Congressman Paul says, "Come home." Congressman Hunter says, "We've got to stay." Is there a middle ground in this debate? HUCKABEE: Certainly there's a middle ground, George. And the middle ground is that we win this war and we do it with honor. We don't just stay indefinitely. We put some pressure -- just like we have been the last week, with Secretary Rice and Secretary Gates -- on the Saudis.

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