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GOP contenders: Extend anti-terror Patriot Act

By Philip Elliott

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 22 2011 6:42 p.m. MST

Republican presidential candidates from left, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman pose for a photo before a Republican presidential debate in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2011.

Evan Vucci, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Most Republican presidential hopefuls supported the anti-terror Patriot Act in campaign debate Tuesday night, saying it should be extended or perhaps strengthened to help identify and capture those who would attack the United States.

Only Rep. Ron Paul of Texas among eight presidential hopefuls dissented, warning that the law is "unpatriotic because it undermines our liberties."

In a debate on national security issues, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann said President Barack Obama has "essentially handed over our investigation of terrorists to the" American Civil Liberties Union. "Our CIA has no ability to investigate," she said. Bachmann did not cite any examples to buttress either of her claims.

The debate unfolded six weeks to the day before the Iowa caucuses inaugurate the competition for delegates to the Republican National Convention. The venerable DAR Constitution Hall was the site — a few blocks from the White House and as close as most if not all of the GOP hopefuls are likely to get.

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