(CNN) - Candidates seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president reacted to the Saturday death of North Korea leader Kim Jong Il on Monday. See candidate statements after the jump.
Former U.S. ambassador to China and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman
"Kim Jong Il was a conscienceless tyrant. His death closes a tragic chapter for the people of North Korea and offers them the best opportunity to get on a path towards a more free and open society and political reform.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
“Kim Jong-il was a ruthless tyrant who lived a life of luxury while the North Korean people starved. He recklessly pursued nuclear weapons, sold nuclear and missile technology to other rogue regimes, and committed acts of military aggression against our ally South Korea. He will not be missed."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
"The death of vicious dictator Kim Jong Il provides some cause for hope but does not automatically end the reign of inhumane tyranny he and his father constructed. Twenty-three million people still live under North Korea's isolationist, inhumane and tyrannical policies. North Korea remains a nuclear power, and there is a great threat that those weapons might fall into the wrong hands if civil war breaks out."
Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann
"While we have one less dictator in the world who is oppressing his own people there is no indication that there is a hope for freedom on the horizon for the people of North Korea because his successor could quite likely be even worse than Kim Jong Il. And that's why – worse – together with the Chinese the North Koreans are actively working to help the Iranians to to obtain missile technology to deliver a nuclear weapon. This cannot be."
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich
"I believe that you have to recognize that when we have dictatorships that have nuclear weapons and are developing ballistic missiles, that the world is dangerous. I am not prepared to see Israel annihilated by the Iranians. I'm not prepared to see either the Iranians or the North Koreans sell nuclear weapons to terrorists. And I'm not prepared to risk any American city in the face of that kind of terrorism," Gingrich said at an event in Davenport, Iowa Monday. "I take very seriously the kind of dictatorship we're seeing in North Korea. The truth is, we have no idea what the successor will be like, whether the regime will become more open or become even more dangerous. Both in Iran and North Korea we have real challenges."