Senator John McCain at the June 5 debate in New Hampshire (epa)
June 6, 2007 -- Candidates seeking to become the Republican Party's nominee for U.S. president in the 2008 elections have criticized President George W. Bush's handling of the Iraq war, but have rejected any swift withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and Senator John McCain (Arizona), who have been at the top of recent Republican opinion polls, agreed that a failure in Iraq would threaten U.S. security.
"I am convinced that if we fail and we have to withdraw, they [terrorists] will follow us home," McCain said. "[Iraq] will be a base for Al-Qaeda, and we will be facing greater challenges and greater sacrifices."
Most of the 10 candidates taking part in the debate in the state of New Hampshire on June 5 said Bush's strategy of sending more U.S. troops to Iraq should be given time to succeed.
The candidates also took tough stands on Iran's nuclear program, saying Tehran must not be permitted to develop nuclear weapons. Some candidates expressed a willingness to use military force if that was necessary to stop Iran.
(compiled from agency reports)