Question 3

Does the Constitution empower the president to disregard a congressional statute limiting the deployment of troops -- either by capping the number of troops that may be deployed to a particular country or by setting minimum home-stays between deployments? In other words, is that level of deployment management beyond the constitutional power of Congress to regulate?

Barack Obama

No, the President does not have that power. To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.

Hillary Clinton

No. Although Congress cannot change the President’s role as the Nation's Commander in Chief, the Constitution expressly gives Congress war powers, including the power to raise and support armies and to establish rules and regulations to govern them. These powers, among others, give Congress the authority to cap the number of troops deployed as well as set minimum home-stays. Similar limitations have been passed throughout our country's history and Presidents have adhered to them.

John Edwards

I do not envision this scenario arising when I am president. As president, I will use my authority to begin redeploying our troops out of Iraq as quickly as possible. I will immediately withdraw 40-50,000 troops, launch a diplomatic surge to bring all local, national, and regional parties into the political solution that will ultimately end the violence in Iraq, and completely withdraw all combat troops within 9-10 months.

Bill Richardson

This question really asks two separate questions. As to the latter one, no, that level of deployment management is not beyond the power of Congress to regulate. However, in some limited circumstances -- such as where it is necessary to protect the troops on the ground or to repel an attack not contemplated by the congressional directive -- the president retains the inherent authority as commander-in-chief to make decisions that run counter to such an express congressional directive. As a general matter, however, the Constitution does not empower the president to disregard properly enacted statutes.

Christopher Dodd

The most effective way to force the president to redeploy US troops is to exercise the power clearly provided to Congress by the Constitution, namely the power of the purse.

Joseph Biden

No. Congress has the power to raise and support Armies, and to provide and maintain a Navy, and to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces (Article I, Section 8, clauses 12-14). Pursuant to these powers, the Congress may limit and regulate the deployment of forces.

John McCain

It's beyond Congress's authority to micromanage wars. Congress has the power of the purse and the power to declare wars; the President is responsible for leading the armed forces as Commander in Chief.

Mitt Romney

The founders created a constitutional system in which the war power was divided between the President and Congress. A President must respect the constitutional design while at the same time remain faithful to commander-in-chief powers and obligations to keep this country safe.

Ron Paul

You know this might require a little bit of qualification. I have not voted to [restrict] the president on troop movements. So my thinking is if the president has some type of authority or he assumes it, I don’t want the solution to be by capping the number of troops or setting any type of troop movement. The solution there for me would be to remove the authority and defund it, not to micromanage troop movement.

At least the thing that I follow on some of these votes in the Congress, when the Democrats come up with restricting troop movements or saying you have to move so many out by so many months, unless the bill is complex that is a basic premise I try to follow. I do not like to vote for, and have voted against, micromanaging troop movements.

Rudy Giuliani

Giuliani declined to answer this question.

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee declined to answer this question.

Fred Thompson

Thompson declined to answer this question.