It's desperation time for Texas Governor Rick Perry, so perhaps we shouldn't be surprised to hear him make such a bold call.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Governor Perry, we know you have differences with President Obama, but who’s got the better of this argument right here between Senator Santorum and Governor Huntsman?
PERRY: Well, I think that you have to — I would send troops back into Iraq, because I will tell you...
PERRY: I — I think we start talking with the Iraqi individuals there. The idea that we allow the Iranians to come back into Iraq and take over that country, with all of the treasure, both in blood and money, that we have spent in Iraq, because this president wants to kowtow to his liberal, leftist base and move out those men and women. He could have renegotiated that timeframe.
I think it is a huge error for us. We’re going to see Iran, in my opinion, move back in at literally the speed of light. They’re going to move back in, and all of the work that we’ve done, every young man that has lost his life in that country will have been for nothing because we’ve got a president that does not understand what’s going on in that region.
After the debate, a Perry spokesman told the Huffington Post that Perry was talking about having "a strategic presence of troops like we're already doing around the world."
But when asked whether the Iraqis should be consulted about a return of U.S. troops, spokesman Mark Miner said, "It has to be a working relationship. What we don't want is Iran to get a hold over Iraq and jeopardize peace in the region and be a detriment to peace in the region."
It should be noted that the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) that declared that all U.S. troops would leave Iraq by the end of 2011 was signed by President George W. Bush and the Iraqi government in 2008.
There was also an interesting exchange on Afghanistan Saturday night between Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman. Huntsman - like the majority of Americans — says it's time to get out of Afghanistan. Romney, as he has said in the past, prefers to go with what "the generals" want, which is staying until 2014, at the earliest.
HUNTSMAN: You know we’ve been at the war on terror for 10 years now, we’ve been in Afghanistan. And I say we’ve got a lot to show for our efforts and I, as president, would like to square with the American people on what we have to show for it. The Taliban is no longer in power. We’ve run out al Qaeda, they’re now in sanctuaries. We’ve had free elections. Osama bin Laden is no longer around.
We have strengthened civil society. We’ve helped the military. We’ve helped the police. I believe it’s time to come home. And I would say within the first year of my administration, which is to say the end of 2013, I would want to draw them down. And I want to recognize Afghanistan for what it is. It is not a counter insurgency. I don’t want to be nation building in Southwest Asia when this nation is in such need of repair.
But we do have a counter-terror mission in Southwest Asia. And that would suppose leaving behind maybe 10,000 troops for intelligence gathering, for Special Forces rapid response capability and training.
SAWYER: Governor Romney, time to come home?
ROMNEY: Well, we want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And Governor Huntsman says at the end of 2013 the — the — the president and the — the commanders are saying they think 2014 is a better date. We’ll get a chance to see what happens over the coming year.
We want to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can. And — and I will, if I’m president, I will inform myself based upon the experience of the people on the ground that are leading our effort there. I want to make sure that we hand off the responsibility to an Afghan security force that is capable of maintaining the sovereignty of their nation from — from the Taliban.
But — but I can — but I can tell you this, I don’t want to do something that would put in jeopardy much of the — the hard earned success which we’ve had there. And I would bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, of course, based upon my own experience there, going there, informing myself of what’s happening there and listening to the commanders on the ground.
SAWYER: Governor Huntsman, you have a disagreement?
HUNTSMAN: Yes. I would have to tell Mitt that the president of the United States is the commander-in-chief. Of course you get input and — and advice from a lot of different corners of Washington, including the commanders on the ground.
But we also deferred to the commanders on the ground in about 1967, during the Vietnam War, and we didn’t get very good advice then.
Here’s what I think is around the corner in Afghanistan. I think civil war is around the corner in Afghanistan. And I don’t want to be the president who invests another penny in a civil war. And I don’t want to be the president who sends another man or woman into harm’s way that we don’t — we’re not able to bring back alive.
I say we’ve got something to show for our mission. Let’s recognize that and let’s move on.