Torture works, Donald Trump tells South Carolina primary crowd
Published 17/02/2016 | 07:31
Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump has declared that "torture works", repeating his vow to bring back waterboarding and approve other, tougher interrogation techniques.
"Don't tell me it doesn't work. Torture works, okay folks?" the billionaire told a crowd in South Carolina, site of the next Republican primary on Saturday.
Mr Trump has repeatedly backed enhanced interrogation techniques for foreign prisoners and said again on Wednesday he would "absolutely" allow waterboarding, which simulates the feeling of drowning.
He added: "W e should go much stronger than waterboarding.
"That's the way I feel. They're chopping off heads. Believe me, we should go much stronger because our country's in trouble, we're in danger. We have people that want to do really bad things."
"Waterboarding is fine, but it's not nearly tough enough."
Waterboarding was practised until late in the George W Bush administration but was disavowed by President Barack Obama.
A 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded harsh interrogation techniques failed to produce information the CIA could not have obtained elsewhere or did not already have.
Mr Trump's comments could further alarm some Republican leaders, who fear the billionaire or Texas Senator Ted Cruz will collect the delegates needed to secure the party's nomination before a more mainstream candidate can consolidate voters' support.
So-called establishment Republicans worry that Mr Trump or Mr Cruz could jeopardise the party's chances of winning in November's general election.
"We do need to get the field down to Trump, Cruz and somebody," said Henry Barbour, a Republican National Committee heavyweight from Mississippi.
Candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio are jostling to be that more mainstream candidate or at least keep their campaigns afloat if they do not.
Mr Rubio on Wednesday said going forward he will address audience members who use "outrageous, over-the-top and egregious" language during his events.
His comments are in response to an incident on Tuesday night when an audience member shouted "waterboard Hillary!" Mr Rubio laughed at the time.
Mr Rubio said on Wednesday that he did not hear exactly what the shouter said.
The Democratic field is already down to two candidates - Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Saturday's Nevada caucuses are next for them, with a South Carolina primary on February 27.
Both Mrs Clinton and Ms Sanders are appealing to black voters as blacks make up more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina and several other southern states.
For the Republicans, the only thing that is clear heading into the South Carolina primary appears to be Mr Trump's grip on the lead following his victory in the New Hampshire primary.