GOP hopefuls: NASDAQ deal not a threat

Majority of candidates say deal for a large chunk of stock exchange by oil-rich Borse Dubai is not a national security threat.

By Katy Byron, CNN Assignment Editor

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Most of the Republican presidential candidates said in a debate Tuesday that they support a Middle Eastern oil firm's bid for a large stake in a major U.S. stock exchange.

The majority of candidates agreed that the deal sealed earlier this year by oil-rich Borse Dubai for 20 percent of NASDAQ Stock Market (Charts) did not impact national security.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani fielded the question first saying the foreign company should be able to own 20 percent of the stock exchange and that Americans should support foreign-domestic deals "if they are considered to be safe. If they pass safety and security clearances," he said.

The deal was highly scrutinized by the financial and political community opposed to foreign ownership of U.S. businesses.

"But you just can't rule out foreign companies. There's a whole procedure you go through as to whether or not are they safe. Are they secure? We cannot stop doing business with the rest of the world," Giuliani added.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, once a businessman and venture capitalist, responded enthusiastically.

"Of course, you let a country invest in the United States," he said. "Because we're going to have to stop thinking always in terms of defense and trying to keep other people out."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee, and Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas agreed. Rep. Duncan Hunter of California and Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado did not.

Hunter said he does not believe the company should have been allowed the large stake in the exchange.

"Because I don't trust them," he said.

"If Dubai wanted to buy Wal-Mart (Charts, Fortune 500), I might think about it," Tancredo joked. Top of page