(CNN) – Several Republican presidential candidates distanced themselves from President Bush’s foreign policy doctrine, and questioned the role of Vice President Cheney, during Sunday morning’s nationally-televised debate.
The foreign policy comments came in response to a question during on President Bush’s second term goal of spreading democracy and ending tyranny, during the debate from Des Moines, Iowa, broadcast on ABC’s “This Week.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney said. “I’m not a carbon copy of President Bush. And there are things I would do that would be done differently.”
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee said he would not follow the policy, saying “sometimes when you get what you want, you don’t get want what you get.” He said, “this is a great case of that happening. I don’t think it’s the job of the United States to export our form of government…I don’t think we can force people to accept our way of life, our way of government.”
Texas Congressman Ron Paul told the audience, “There’s nothing wrong with spreading our values around the world, but it is wrong to spread him by force.”
Moderator George Stephanopoulos noted in the question the victory of Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and President Ahmadinejad in Iran during free elections. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said, “in some cases, maybe going to elections so quickly is a mistake. Maybe the thing to do is to first make sure that you’ve developed the bedrock for democracy.”
On the role of the Vice President, Senator Sam Brownback, R-Kansas, said “Dick Cheney came in with a lot of experience, He came in with a lot of experience on defense, foreign policy issues, And I think the president over-relied on that. I think Dick Cheney has done an admirable job. I think the president’s over-relied on that.”
Senator John McCain, R-Arizona, said “I would be very careful that everybody understood that there’s only one president.”
But there were defenders of President Bush and Vice President Cheney’s role. Former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said, “I believe that Vice President Cheney is criticized for a lot of things he doesn’t do.”
And Romney added, “it’s been very popular lately for people to be critical of the president and vice president. And I know they make mistakes. But they have kept us safe these last six years. Let’s not forget that.”
–CNN Political Desk Managing Editor Steve Brusk