Apple received a mention in a big way during CNN’s Southern Republican Presidential Debate held yesterday at the North Charleston Coliseum in South Carolina. The debate featured Republican Presidential candidates Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, Ron Paul, and Rick Santorum. At one point (mark 1:01:55), CNN host John King asked the candidates in the light of the ongoing Foxconn controversy to lay out their plans to bring back manufacturing jobs to the United States.

More precisely, King zeroed in on the fact that Apple is “a breathtakingly important American company” that employs most of its workforce in retail stores, but hires half a million low-paid workers through its Far East suppliers and contract manufacturers that actually assemble its products (just like any other technology company does, mind you). Santorum has “a plan in place” to put this strategy to an end (quote right below the fold), as do other candidates. They also talked SOPA and discussed other burning issues. Just watch the clip…

Apple, you have all those employees over there, you make all those profits over there. If you want to bring that money back, right now you have to pay 35 percent tax. Under our plan, if you bring it back and invest in the plant equipment here in Charleston – you pay nothing. Put that money to work, invest it and you pay nothing – it’s a powerful incentive.

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