GOP debate: Perry urges Panetta to resign over defense cuts

GOP debate: Perry urges Panetta to resign over defense cuts

Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Tuesday night called for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to step down to protest deep cuts to military spending.

When the congressional debt panel folded without an agreement, it moved the Pentagon one step closer to $600 billion in cuts over a decade that would begin in January 2013. That would be in addition to a cut already being enacted from the August debt deal that a U.S. official told The Hill earlier Tuesday will mean a separate $489 billion cut over 10 years.

If all those cuts are set in motion, Perry said bluntly: "If Leon Panetta is an honorable man, he should resign in protest."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said the Pentagon's budget has been cut already and the military has had to stop buying things like the Air Force's prized F-22 fighter jet.

Romney said the possible $1 trillion in Defense cuts equals what it would take to implement President Obama's healthcare reform law.

The Defense budget situation, Romney said, is an example of Obama's "failure to lead with strength."

Most of the other candidates also opposed further Pentagon cuts.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, however, echoed some House Democrats by saying the Pentagon budget must be on the table as Congress and the Obama administration search for more federal spending cuts. He also said further military spending reductions should be linked to a new national security strategy, adding that should be linked to economic policy.

Minnesota Rep. Michele BachmannMichele BachmannBachmann: Muslim immigrants trying to undermine Western civilization Religious leaders pray over Trump in Oval Office 'Real Housewives' producer 'begging' Conway to join cast MORE said Americans should be wary that Washington could be cutting its military while U.S. taxpayer monies are going to pay for China's ongoing military build-up.