FACTBOX: Key quotes from Republican presidential debate

Mon Jan 16, 2012 11:57pm EST

(Reuters) - Republican presidential contenders vying to challenge U.S. President Barack Obama in 2012 debated in South Carolina on Monday where the third Republican nominating contest takes place this week.

Here are some of their main quotes:

MITT ROMNEY, FORMER MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR

Defending his past as governor of Massachusetts and head of private equity firm Bain Capital:

"My record is out there. Proud of it and I think that the people want to have somebody who understands how the economy works. ... I'm the guy that can best post up against Barack Obama."

On creating jobs:

"We've got a president in office three years and he does not have a jobs plan. I've got one out there already and I'm not even president yet."

On Super PAC campaign funding groups:

"I would like to have Super PACs disappear to tell you the truth ... and not have this strange situation where we have people out there who support us, who run ads we don't like. ... And by law we're not allowed to talk to them. I haven't spoken with any of the people that are involved with my Super PACs in months."

On Obama's recent overtures to the Taliban of Afghanistan:

"The right course for America is not to negotiate with the Taliban while the Taliban are killing our soldiers. The right course is to recognize they're the enemy of the United States. ... We should not negotiate with the Taliban we should defeat the Taliban."

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF

REPRESENTATIVES

Defending his attacks on Romney as a "job killer" when head of Bain Capital:

"It struck me that raising those questions giving him an opportunity to answer is exactly what campaigns ought to be about."

On statements that low-income students could work as janitors:

"You could take one janitor and hire 30 some kids to work in the school for the price of one janitor. Those 30 kids will be a lot less likely to drop out. ... They'd be getting money which is a good thing if you're poor."

RICK PERRY, TEXAS GOVERNOR

On Romney's unwillingness to release income tax records:

"Mitt, we need for you to release your income tax so the people of this country can see how you make your money."

Whether Turkey should leave NATO given its recent bent toward Arab countries in Arab-Israeli clashes:

"Obviously when you have a country that is being ruled by what many would perceive to be Islamic terrorists ... then yes not only is it time for us to have a conversation about whether or not they ought to be in NATO, it's time for the United States to, we look at their foreign aid, to go to zero with it.

RON PAUL, U.S. REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS

Criticizing U.S. foreign policy:

"Maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in foreign policy. Don't do to other nations what we don't want have them do to us. We endlessly bomb these countries and then we wonder why they get upset with us."

On U.S. military spending

"Just because you spend a billion dollars on an embassy in Baghdad ... you consider that defense spending. I consider that waste."

RICK SANTORUM, FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR

Attacking Romney for ads criticizing Santorum for supporting voting rights of former convicts:

"If in fact you felt so passionately about this that you are now going to go out and have somebody criticize me for restoring voting rights to people who have exhausted their sentence and served their time and paid their debt to society, why didn't you try to change that when you were governor of Massachusetts?"

(Compiled By Lily Kuo)

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