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‘Torture works,’ Trump says as South Carolina primary looms

Click to play video: 'Donald Trump: ‘We should go much stronger than waterboarding’'
Donald Trump: ‘We should go much stronger than waterboarding’
WATCH ABOVE: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives his opinion on the use of waterboarding during interrogations saying it's okay to use that they should use stronger options – Feb 17, 2016

CHARLESTON, S.C. – “Torture works,” Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump declared Wednesday, repeating his vow to bring back waterboarding and approve other, tougher interrogation techniques.

“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work. Torture works, OK folks?” the brash billionaire told a crowd in South Carolina, site of the next Republican primary on Saturday.

Trump has repeatedly advocated enhanced interrogation techniques for foreign prisoners, and he said again Wednesday he would “absolutely” allow waterboarding, which simulates the feeling of drowning.

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“But we should go much stronger than waterboarding,” he said. “That’s the way I feel. They’re chopping off heads. Believe me, we should go much stronger because our country’s in trouble, we’re in danger. We have people that want to do really bad things.”

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Waterboarding was practiced until late in the George W. Bush administration but was disavowed by President Barack Obama. A 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report concluded that harsh interrogation techniques failed to produce information the CIA couldn’t have obtained elsewhere or didn’t already have.

WATCH: Trump fires back at Obama after comment about billionaire never becoming president
Click to play video: 'Trump fires back at Obama after comment about billionaire never becoming president'
Trump fires back at Obama after comment about billionaire never becoming president

Trump’s comments could further alarm some Republican leaders, who fear Trump or Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will collect the delegates needed to secure the party’s nomination before a more mainstream candidate can consolidate voters’ support. So-called establishment Republicans worry that Trump or Cruz could jeopardize the party’s chances of winning in November’s general election.

WATCH: Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump says if he’s president his military is going to crush ISIS “quickly and surgically,” followed by chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A,” from the crowd.
Click to play video: 'Donald Trump: Our military will crush ISIS ‘quickly and surgically’'
Donald Trump: Our military will crush ISIS ‘quickly and surgically’

Candidates Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Sen. Marco Rubio are jostling to be that more mainstream candidate, or at least keep their campaigns afloat if they don’t.

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On Wednesday, Bush suffered a setback after news leaked South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley would endorse Rubio, three days before the state primary.

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The Democratic field is already down to two candidates – Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Saturday’s Nevada caucuses are next for them, with a South Carolina primary on Feb. 27.

Both Clinton and Sanders are appealing to black voters, as blacks make up more than half of the Democratic primary electorate in South Carolina and several other southern states.

For the Republicans, the only thing that is clear heading into the South Carolina primary appears to be Trump’s grip on the lead following his victory in the New Hampshire primary. Cruz, the winner of the Iowa caucuses, is also in the mix for a strong finish.

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