Newt Gingrich's illegal immigration comment sparks controversy
WASHINGTON (KABC) -- There was a crucial debate for Republican presidential candidates, with the Iowa caucuses just six weeks away.
Tuesday night's debate was all about national security and was held just down the street from the White House.
Center stage, for the first time, was a man very familiar with the ways of Washington D.C. With his support in the polls higher than ever, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich argued against many Republican primary voters regarding illegal immigration.
"I do not see how the party who says it's the party of the family adopts an immigration policy which destroys families who have been here a quarter century," said Gingrich. "And I'm prepared to take the heat in saying let's be humane in enforcing the law."
"That's going to only encourage people to come here illegally," said Mitt Romney.
And the fight continued over extending the Patriot Act.
"I'd look at strengthening it because I think the dangers are literally that great," said Gingrich.
"You never have to give up liberty for security," said Rep. Ron Paul from Texas. "You can still provide security without sacrificing our Bill of Rights."
On foreign aid to Pakistan:
"If you are not going to be an ally of the United States, do not expect a dime coming into your country," said Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
"I think that's highly na´ve," said Michele Bachmann. "We have to recognize what's happening on the ground. These are nuclear weapons."
On whether air port screeners should racially profile:
"Obviously, Muslims would be someone you'd look at," said Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum.
"If you take a look at the people who have tried to kill us, it would be easy to figure out exactly what that identification profile should look like," said Herman Cain.
The big headline of the night will likely be Gingrich's moderate stance on illegal immigration. It's a position that might play well with a general election audience, but could create some real challenges with the conservative primary voters in states like Iowa and South Carolina.
republican party, washington d.c., politics, elex michaelson
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