In a sign of just how dramatically public opinion has swung against the Internet anti-piracy legislation up for a vote next week in the Senate, all four GOP candidates said at Thursday evening's primary debate they opposed it, though Rick Santorum seemed, entirely unsurprisingly, the least comfortable with the notion that, as he put it, "anything goes" on the Internet. (Google it.)
"I favor freedom. I think that we have a patent office, we have copyright law," said Newt Gingrich, rejecting "the idea that we're going to preemptively have the government start censoring."
Mitt Romney agreed. "I think he got it just about right," he said, calling the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) "far too intrusive, far too expansive," and worrying that it could have "a potentially depressing impact" on the growth and development of the Internet.
"If we can find a way to very narrowly go after pirating," said Romney, "we should do that."
Ron Paul noted that he was the first Republican to oppose the bill in the House. He said he was pleased to hear establishment Republicans coming around to his position. "Republicans unfortunately have been on the wrong side of this issue," he said.
Santorum, meanwhile, seemed to be penned in by the unanimous opposition. "I agree with everybody up here that it goes too far," he said, before launching into a defense of regulating the Internet in order to attack piracy. "I'm for free, but I'm not for people abusing the law and I think something proper should be done," he said.