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CBS News/NJ debate transcript, part 1

Scott Pelley: Governor, on the question. We're gonna adherer to time, very quickly. But let me--

Mitt Romney: I get 60 seconds.

Scott Pelley: Yes, sir, and that was--

Mitt Romney: That was 30.

Scott Pelley: The-- the 60--

Mitt Romney: Sorry, it started at yellow, so I-- I have much more time to go.

Scott Pelley: You-- you know what, Governor? I stand corrected. You are right. Please continue.

Mitt Romney: Fin-- finally, the president should have built credible-- threat of military action, and made it very clear that the United States of America is willing, in the final analysis, if necessary, to take military action to keep Iran from having a nuclear weapon. Look, one thing you can know-- and that is if we reelect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if we elect Mitt Romney, if you'd like me as the next president, they will not have a nuclear weapon.

Scott Pelley: But sir, let me-- you just described where we are today, and that's what you're going to have to deal with if you become president. How do you prevent them from obtaining a nuclear weapon? Is it worth going to war to prevent that?

Mitt Romney: Well, it's worth putting in place crippling sanctions. It's worth working with the insurgents in the company to encourage regime change in the country. And if all else fails, if after all of the work we've done, there's nothing else we can do beside mil-- take military action, then of course you take military action. It is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. This term "unacceptable" has been applied by several presidents over history, and our current president has made it very clear that he's not willing to do those things necessary to get Iran to be dissuaded from their nuclear folly. I will take a different course. I will make sure that the sanctions, diplomatic pressure, economic pressure, and support of insurgents within the country help them become dissuaded to get away from their nuclear ambition. And finally--

Scott Pelley: This time, it is time.

Mitt Romney: Yeah, and finally, have to-- have to have military presence there.

Scott Pelley: --30 seconds, though, on the follow ups. We're gonna try to adhere to the time.

Major Garrett: Mr. Speaker, is this the right way to look at this question, war or not war? Or do you see other options, diplomatically, or other non-war means that the United States has in its possession to deal with Iran that it has not employed?

Newt Gingrich: Well, let me start and say that both the answers you just got are superior to the current administration. And-- you know, there are a number of ways to be smart about-- Iran and relatively few ways to be dumb. And the administration skipped all the ways to be smart.

Major Garrett: Could you tell us the smart ways, Mr. Speaker?

Newt Gingrich: Sure. First of all, as maximum covert operations-- to block and disrupt the Iranian program-- in-- including-- taking out their scientists, including breaking up their systems. All of it covertly, all of it deniable. Second, maximum-- maximum coordination with the Israelis-- in a way which allows them to maximize their impact in Iran. Third, absolute strategic program comparable to what President Reagan, Pope John Paul II, and Margaret Thatcher did in the Soviet Union, of every possible aspect short of war of breaking the regime and bringing it down. And I agree entirely with Governor Romney, if in the end, despite all of those things-- the dictatorship persists, you have to take whatever steps are necessary to break its capacity to have a nuclear weapon.

Scott Pelley: Congressman Paul, let me follow up with you for just 30 seconds. Is it worth going to war to prevent a nuclear weapon in Iran?

Ron Paul: No, it isn't worthwhile. The only way you would do that is-- you would have to go through Congress. We-- we as commander in chief aren't making the decision to go to war. You know, the old-fashioned way, the Constitution, you go to the Congress and find out if our national security is threatened. And-- I'm afraid what's going on right now is similar to the war propaganda that went on against Iraq.

And, you know, they didn't have nuc-- weapons of mass destruction. And it was orchestrated and it was-- to me, a tragedy of what's happened these past-- last ten years, the death and destruction, $4 billion-- $4 trillion in debt. So no, it's not worthwhile goin' to war. If you do, you get a declaration of war and you fight it and you win it and get it over with.