Several Republican candidates called for a return to the criticised anti-terrorism tactics used under the George W Bush Administration, in a moment of hawkish agreement in yesterday's presidential primary debate at St Anselm College in New Hampshire.
"I would bring back waterboarding, and I'd bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding," said billionaire Donald Trump, speaking of the "enhanced interrogation technique" that simulates drowning.
President Barack Obama has banned waterboarding, which was used by the CIA under Bush.
Senator Ted Cruz also said he would be open to waterboarding in emergency situations, such as to stop an imminent terrorist attack.
Senator Marco Rubio also approved of it, saying that "anti-terrorism" situations should be handled differently than "law enforcement", and could follow different rules. "We should be putting people into Guantanamo, not emptying it out," Rubio said.
One voice in favour of the waterboarding ban was Jeb Bush, George W's brother. "I think where we stand is the appropriate place."
Trump was booed repeatedly by the crowd for trying to shush Bush during an exchange about Trump's attempted use of eminent domain (a compulsory purchase order) to seize a woman's house in Atlantic City.
Bush: "To turn this into a limousine parking lot for his casinos is not a public use."
Trump: "He wants to be a tough guy."
Bush: "How tough is it to take property from an elderly woman?"
Trump: "Lemme talk. Quiet."
The crowd booed.
Trump responded by telling the television audience that the crowd was full of donors who were unhappy that he wouldn't take their donations. The crowd booed again.
I would bring back waterboarding. And I would bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding.
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It was Trump's roughest moment in a debate, as lower-tier candidates such as Bush and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie - who need good showings in this week's New Hampshire primary to rescue their candidacies - took on the front-runners. Christie attacked Rubio repeatedly, accusing him of dodging questions and running away from his own immigration legislation.
Christie also raised questions about Rubio's experience, as a first-term senator. "You have not been involved in a consequential decision, where you had to be held accountable. You just simply haven't," Christie began, comparing Rubio unfavourably to President Barack Obama, who was a first-term senator when elected.
Rubio responded by turning to a prepared criticism of Obama.
Christie mocked him for responding with a memorised speech. Rubio responded by saying Christie had been unwilling to return to New Jersey during a recent snowstorm. "They had to shame you into going back,"
After more back-and-forth, Rubio returned to his Obama speech.
"There it is," Christie said. "The speech again."
- Washington Post, Bloomberg