McCain argued that waterboarding is illegal, harms the United States’s moral standing in the world and doesn't help gather reliable intelligence.
During the CBS/National Journal Republican debate Saturday, Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann, Herman Cain and Rick Perry said they would consider authorizing the use of waterboarding as a tactic for gathering intelligence.
"Using those techniques that we know will extract the information to save young American lives ... I will be for it until I die," said Perry at the debate.
Cain said he doesn't believe the practice is torture, but rather considers it an "enhanced interrogation technique."
McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, and Obama both opposed the use of waterboarding and called it torture during the previous presidential contest. President Obama has since banned the practice.
Bachmann doubled down Monday on her support of waterboarding, saying the president was “clearly wrong” to ban it.
"No one died from the use of waterboarding. Is it uncomfortable? Yes, it's uncomfortable. But our worry should not be the comfort level of terrorists," Bachmann said Monday on Fox News.
Not all of the current GOP contenders are in favor of its use.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman said the use of waterboarding — which he called torture — diminished the country’s ability to project its values overseas. And Rep. Ron Paul (Texas), whose libertarian mindset most frequently puts him in hot water with Republican voters on foreign-policy issues, said there was no reason to pursue it as a tactic.
“It's illegal under international law and under our law,” Paul said Saturday. “It's also immoral, and it's also very impractical. There's no evidence that you really get reliable evidence."