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Republican Presidential Candidates Hold First Debate

The 10 candidates for the Republican presidential nomination gathered for their first debate at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, Calif., Thursday night. The NewsHour presents excerpts from the debate.

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    The 10 Republican candidates for president appeared together for the first time last night at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California.

    Earlier in the evening, they had met with former First Lady Nancy Reagan in a replica of her husband's Oval Office, and they all made sure to invoke the legacy of the late president once they got on the stage.

    RUDY GIULIANI (R), Former Mayor of New York: What we can borrow from Ronald Reagan, since we are in his library, is that great sense of optimism that he had.

    FORMER GOV. MITT ROMNEY (R), Massachusetts: Ronald Reagan was a president of strength.

    SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), Kansas: I believe in the Ronald Reagan principle.

    FORMER GOV. MIKE HUCKABEE (R), Arkansas: What Ronald Reagan did was to give us a vision for this country.


    The candidates will have 60 seconds to respond.


    Moderator Chris Matthews of MSNBC peppered the candidates with questions, allowing rebuttals and some candidates to speak on longer than others. The 90-minute debate focused heavily on foreign policy, most specifically Iraq.

    Arizona Senator John McCain used the opportunity to lash out at congressional Democrats, who he called "defeatist."

    SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), Arizona: When the majority leader of the United States Senate says we've lost the war, the men and women that are serving in Iraq reject that notion. When on the floor of the House of Representatives, they cheer — they cheer — when they pass a withdrawal motion that is a certain date for surrender, what were they cheering? Surrender? Defeat?

    We must win in Iraq. If we withdraw, there will be chaos, there will be genocide, and they will follow us home.


    Former Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson outlined his plan for success in Iraq, which includes establishing regional governments and reallocating oil profits.

    FORMER GOV. TOMMY THOMPSON (R), Wisconsin: If every man, woman and child is getting part of the oil proceeds, they're going to have a vested interest in their country. They'll be purchasing goods. They will be investing in small businesses. And they will be building the country on democratic grounds in Iraq.


    And Kansas Senator Sam Brownback added that Iraq, as the central front in the war on terror, can be saved only through regional diplomacy.


    There are a number of people that are with us, that work with us around the world, and also in the Islamic world. We're partnering with a number of moderate Muslim regimes. And that's something I think we need to convey into the Muslim world, as well, that these are groups, the al-Qaida group, the militant Islamic fascists, they're trying to unseat moderate Muslim regimes.