Where Do The Leading Republican Presidential Candidates Stand On SOPA? [UPDATED]

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney sounds like a guy who really, really wants to oppose the Stop Online Piracy Act and its Senate counterpart, the Protect IP Act.

But Romney just can’t bring himself to mention SOPA by name.

At a New Hampshire campaign stop late last month, a small business owner asked Romney how he felt about SOPA. Without directly mentioning the bill, the proposed legislation that would put curbs on Web sites in a bid to crack down on copyright violations, Romney said he opposes “bills like this” that focus solely on “stopping bad acts.”

“The job of a regulator is not to just to catch the bad guys and stop bad acts, it is to encourage the economy and encourage the good guys,” he said in comments similar to those he’s made in other public appearances.

While most of the support for SOPA is coming from members of Congress, it is possible the issue will be something the next President has to deal with. Heading into Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary, which, based on polling Romney is expected to win, here are how the other leading Republican candidates stand on SOPA:

Ron Paul: Not surprisingly Paul, who plays more like a Libertarian than a Republican, opposes SOPA. Whether Paul fully understands the bill or is simply exaggerating its ramifications for effect (Paul has said SOPA “will take over the Internet” and “monitor everything we do”) is still unclear. But Paul does remain the only Republican still in the hunt who has voiced a clear-cut position on SOPA.

Rick Santorum: When asked about SOPA at a campaign stop over the weekend, the conservative, former Pennsylvania Senator said “there are limits to freedom on the Internet.” That is perhaps understandable, given Santorum’s woes with Google.

Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry: Gingrich and Perry have both been notably quiet on SOPA. A Google News search did not turn up instances where either had been directly asked for their opinions on SOPA.

Update: While he’s no longer a contender for the presidential nomination, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., said on Monday he would vote against SOPA.

“The Internet is one of the most magnificent expressions of freedom and free enterprise in history. It should stay that way,” he said in a statement. While SOPA “attempts to address a legitimate problem, I believe it creates the precedent and possibility for undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse.”

Ryan, an influential Republican who considered a run for his party’s presidential nomination last summer, voiced his opposition to SOPA following a Reddit campaign that targeted him. He had previously been neutral on the issue.

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore

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