Washington (CNN) - Likely Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty accused the Obama administration of "naivety" on Syria, as he called for the United States to recall its ambassador and toughen sanctions on the country.
Pawlenty's comments came in a radio interview on the Hugh Hewitt Show Monday evening, shortly before President Obama addressed the nation on the military operation in Libya.
"Our interests in Syria are at least as strong, if not stronger, than in Libya", Pawlenty said when asked what the United States should do after violent crackdowns on demonstrators in Syria. “Here you have a country (that has) enabled and accommodated people to go into Iraq and kill American soldiers. They house Hamas and allow them to exist in Syria as they continue to be a terrorist organization in Israel and elsewhere. And the list goes on and on about the problems that the Syria, and specifically Bashir Assad, has caused the region and the world and also the United States of America."
Pawlenty told Hewitt the U.S. needs a tougher stance on the Syria protests, first calling for President Obama "to speak strongly and clearly to the people of Syria that we hope and believe and support their drive towards freedom and getting rid of Bashir Assad.”
The former Minnesota governor, who last week launched an exploratory committee for a White House run, said the administration needs to recall Ambassador Robert Ford from Damascus. President Obama named Ford as Ambassador in 2009, four years after the U.S. withdrew its envoy in protest at the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
“President Obama made the mistake of sending an ambassador to Syria, legitimizing that country and his regime in ways that I don't think are appropriate. Recall the ambassador,” Pawlenty said.
In the interview, he also called for the United States to start invoking further sanctions on Damascus, “both economically and otherwise."
Palwenty called any belief that Syria and Assad could be peace agents in the region "a complete crock." He said it "shows the naivety of the Obama administration. And to have the secretary of state on a Sunday morning talk show implying that he's a reformer; to have his administration essentially embracing in any manner or degree Bashir Assad and Syria as a peace agent - or an agent for reform and stability in the region - is either ignorant or frighteningly misguided."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was asked on CBS' “Face the Nation” how the situation in Libya was worse than repression over the years in Syria, including by Assad's father. Clinton said, "There is a different leader in Syria now. Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he's a reformer. What's been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning."
Gawd – Could you imagine the U.S. having a President with the last name of "Pawlenty"? Paw-lenty Puh-lenty.... President Pawlenty? yiick! Puh-lease. Just based on his last name ALONE, he MUST NOT be our next President!
All these Republican yahoos are so out of touch and out of the loop ... when was the last time they were in on a high-level security briefing?
Don't they realize the rest of the world thinks the GOP is a bunch of wackos? With people like Pawlenty, Palin, Bachmann, Gringrich speaking for them, how can the GOP be perceived of in any other way?
Pawlenty is the one who's in over his head.
Can we please finish with Libya before starting the next one!
Libya is an perfect target since we can park carriers off the coast or employ NATO bases in Europe. Syria is more difficult since we'd need to arrange fly-overs for one of the surrounding nations - or do we shoot our way in to Syria.
Right, like President Obama is going to listen to anything Pawlenty or any of the other Republicans have to say ...
The GOP's stated #1 goal is to defeat President Obama – and the GOP has shown over the last two years that they don't care how much they harm our country and/or her people in the process.
It seems like T-Paw is unfamiliar with the story of the boy who cried wolf. If the GOP hadn't spent so much time criticizing Obama for putting dijon mustard on his burger; if the GOP hadn't spent so much time criticizing Obama for spending $200 million on his India trip (LOL), then maybe, just maybe they'd have some credibility.
Unfortunately, they've done the exact opposite, so I'm just going to iignore this gang of fools.
How dare he criticize a President during wartime. He is undermining our national security and appeasing terrorists. Fox News should be all over this guy, calling him a traitor and should stand trial for treason. Fox??? Oh Fox???? Sean Hannity??? Glenn Beck???
Naive doesn't begin to describe Obummie on foreign affairs. He is a boy among men and the biggest chump the white house has ever seen.
This guy is a joke!
Frankly, I would rather have Obama as naive than Bushy and Dicky, Sarah and Mchelle as blantant liars.
God help America if one of these Republicans becomes president.
What is naive is the sudden thought process among republicans that a president must make decisions on all of these revolutions immediately as they've begun. Past presidents have waited years between when revolutions sprouted up in foreign countries before even speaking on the subject let alone doing anything like recalling ambassadors or imposing sanctions.
I think it is you, Tim, who is naive enough to think you will ever be POTUS. President Obama is a brilliant man, and will be relected in 2012.
What is naive is the sudden thought process among republicans that a president must make decisions on all of these revolutions immediately as they've begun. Past presidents have waited years between when revolutions sprouted up in foreign countries before even speaking on the subject let alone doing anything like recalling officials or imposing sanctions.
For any politician to insult and attempt to undercut any President hours before he makes a national address explaining why he is putting our troops in harm’s way is a level of political opportunism unbefitting anyone who wants to be President.
Mr Pawlenty would sell out his own mother.
Talk about naive. If these guys had their way their 'getting tough' talk would have us in conflicts across the globe. And not a dime payed for by this generation of Americans.
Just another former gov. without a clue about foreign policy or the being able to see the whole picture, more cowboy actions is not what our great country or the world needs. This guy is so predicable, what ever the President does, he's against it no matter what. A true GOP idiot.
Of course. You can say that when you're a GOP nobody with no power to do anything. It's easy to carry a big stick when you're not in charge Tim. Let's see you (God forbid, and heaven help us) if you're in the White House. Different story then Timmy boy.
Is it that easy, Pawlenty?
let's see ... a governor from a nearly land locked state, 1000 miles from the nearest body of salt water ... says someone else is ignorant about a foreign country. my first impulse would be to say,"they MUST be a conservative". turns out, time pawlenty is a conservative.
more "no facts", more "pointing of fingers with no viable alternative plan".
the entire country is tired of the foolish conservative operating procedure. when will they use facts? when will they come up with ANY idea? the instant our president even suggested going into ANY other country, the conservatives would be howling about the us being the police of the world, who's gonna pay for it, why do we have to be there, and so on. I say to you, it is tim pawlenty who is naive.
I can honestly say that I have never seen such a low life roster of candidates as the ones now coming forward from the
Tea/Pub party. Just when you think you have heard from the worst of them, another speaks up and lowers the bar even
Great, we are already stretched thin over three conflicts and this nutjob wants to make it an even four? Hey, I've got an idea. How about we finish one before starting another?
Obama could walk on water and Pawlenty and his crowd would say that it's only because he can't swim.
Does the fact that the Republican ankle-biters are moving on to whining about Syria mean they're crying uncle over Obama's masterful handling of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya? Good, because Gingrich's flip-flops were getting a little embarrassing. If they'd gone on talking about it for five more days he'd have espoused five more positions.
Face it, using nuance and finesse, Obama has accomplished in a few months what that gang of neoconservative thugs couldn't accomplish in eight years, using the entire U.S. Army and trillions of borrowed dollars. No more Bolton/PNAC foreign policy, please!