By FOX Carolina Staff
GREENVILLE, S.C.FOX News and the South Carolina Republican party hosted the first 2012 GOP presidential debate Thursday night in Greenville.
The nationally televised, 90-minute debate included five Republican candidates: former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain; former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson, Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum.
They are the only candidates who met the sponsors' criteria to participate: forming a presidential exploratory committee, filing state GOP paperwork and paying $25,000 to get on the state primary ballot.
The first question was about Osama bin Laden and the war in Afghanistan. Here is how the candidates responded.
Pawlenty: "I do congratulate President Obama for the fine job that he did in taking some tough decisions and being decisive as it related to finding and killing Osama bin Laden. He did a good job and I tip my hat to him in that moment. But, that moment is not the sum total of America's foreign policy. He's made a number of other decisions relating to our security here and around the world that I don't agree with and in fact if it turns out that many of the techniques he criticized during the campaign led to Osama bin Laden being identified and killed he should be asked to explain whether he does for doesn't support those techniques."
Santorum: "If you look at what President Obama has done right in foreign policy, it has always been a continuation of the Bush policies he's gone right by keeping Gitmo open, he's done right by finishing the job in Iraq. He's done right by trying to win in Afghanistan. Those were existing policies that were in place, the decision he made with Osama bin Laden was a tactical decision. It wasn't a strategic decision, the strategic decision was made already by President Bush to go after him, what President Obama has done on his watch the issues that have come up while he's been president he's gotten it wrong strategically every single time."
Paul: "We went to Afghanistan to get him and he hasn't been there, now that he's killed, boy it is a wonderful time for this country now to reassess it and get the troops out of Afghanistan and end that war that hasn't helped us and hasn't helped anybody in the Middle East."
Cain: "No, because it's not clear what the mission is, that's the bigger problem, it's not clear what the mission is, it's not really clear to the American people what are interests are and then thirdly it's not clear what the road map to victory is and what does that mean, this is why I would revisit the issue in defining those three critical questions answering those questions before I as president made a decision."
Johnson: "Afghanistan originally I was completely supportive of that we were attacked we attacked back that's what are military is for and after six months I think we pretty effectively taken care of al-Qaida but that was 10 years ago. We're building roads, schools, bridges, and highways in Iraq and Afghanistan and we're borrowing 43 cents out of dollar to do that, in my opinion this is crazy."
Experts said the Palmetto State debate was important because South Carolina has been a bellwether state. Since 1980, the candidate who won the state's GOP primary went on to win the partys nomination.