WASHINGTON – Top Republican figures participating in a debate Tuesday rejected the possibility of emulating Israel's example of freeing terrorists from Guantanamo in exchange for US captives.
In a Las Vegas debate featuring seven Republican candidates seeking their party's presidential nomination, Herman Cain said: "…I believe in the philosophy of we don't negotiate with terrorists. … I would never agree to letting hostages in Guantanamo Bay go.”
Top Republicans at debate (Photo: AP)
"I would have a policy that we do not negotiate with terrorists. We have to lay that principle down first," he said.
Earlier, Cain was quoted as saying that he would consider a prisoner swap, prompting him to make the above clarification in the debate.
Addressing Israel's Shalit swap,
Cain said he was certain that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
weighed many factors before approving the deal, but refused to say whether he thought Israel's PM made the right decision.
Shalit swap - not in America (Photo: Ariel Hermoni, Defense Ministry)
"I don't think we can say he did the right thing or not. A responsible decision-maker would have considered everything," Cain said.
Candidate Michele Bachmann, associated with the Tea Party Movement, was also firm on the issue, taking a jab at Cain for his earlier statement regarding prisoner swaps.
"For any candidate to say that they would release the prisoners at Guantanamo in exchange for a hostage would be absolutely contrary to the historical nature of the United States and what we do in our policy," she said. "The United States has done well because we have an absolute policy: we don't negotiate."
Meanwhile, Former Senator Rick Santorum, summed up his views by declaring: "Absolutely not, you can't negotiate with terrorists, period."
Notably, at this time US Serviceman Bowe Bergdahl is held in captivity after being captured in Afghanistan some two years ago. As opposed to the Shalit case, the captive American soldier has been left out of the US public discourse and there is no effort to place the issue on the agenda.