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Election 101: Where the GOP candidates stand on China, Iran, Israel and other key foreign issues

On issues of foreign policy and national security, stopping Iran, supporting Israel, and standing up to China are three themes GOP candidates are using to hammer at what they consider President Obama’s weakness and highlight what they hope will be seen as their own toughness.

But Americans don't seem to see Mr. Obama as particularly soft, and even many Republican leaders rank Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as the administration's best asset. Take a look at where each of the GOP hopefuls stands on foreign policy and national security issues.

U.S. Republican presidential candidate and Congressman Ron Paul listens to questions at a Town Hall meeting at the Ericson Public Library during a campaign stop in Boone, Iowa December 8, 2011.
Jim Young/Reuters
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1. Ron Paul

China

Is neither China basher nor meddler: was lone “nay” vote on House resolution honoring Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo on grounds US should stay out of other countries’ internal affairs. Calls China “more capitalistic than we are.” Says overall US-China relations have been on right track since Nixon.

Middle East

Would eliminate all US foreign aid, including to Israel. Opposes a US-led peace process, saying US should not dictate to Israel, a sovereign nation. Opposes sanctions on Iran, which he says only encourage hostilities and Iran’s desire to go nuclear.

Terrorism

Blasts war on terror as a major threat to Americans’ freedoms. Says all troops should come home from antiterror wars.

Defense spending

Says US spends a trillion dollars a year maintaining its “empire” and should stop. Would balance federal budget by 2015 in part by cutting military spending by $832 billion.

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