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."
Yet another hawk calling for the U.S. To get mired into yet another conflict. Will the republicans approach every problem with military intervention as the only nation to carry out the attack? Interesting how their myopic criticisms of the Obama administrations actions flip flopped when the President did intervene. Very interesting how they act and blather on and on. Please, Pawlenty, shut the pie hole.
Mr. Tim Pawlenty as typical republican do NOT unfderstand diplomacy. Why he is NOT asking US to pull out US Embasador in Bahrain. Maany people has been killed. Country has been occupied by Saudi Crminal regime, UAE, Qatar and Kuwait?
What kind of game he is playiing. Answer is: He know knows nothing about Middle East and Dioplomacy. He just making noise like Plain.
After the President so eloquently laid out America's agenda, this extremist looks pretty dumb himself. Go home Pawley and brush up on your foreign affairs. Peoples' lives are important and the dictator will be removed but and we can support the cause.
Pawlenty presents with classic "naivety" on issues regarding foreign policy. He will not be the candidate in 2012.
Tim Palwenty is a two-bit punk! He is a yellow belly who has no courage or brains! Anyone who would vote for this man is a complete and utter dumb butt!
Yes, T-Paw can call on all the foreign affairs expertise he developed as governor of Minnesota.
I am now officially "blasting" Tim Pawlenty as stupid, opportunistic, and hypocritical. So there.
These people just don't know when to shutup do they? Keep at it boys and girls, you have so splintered the GOP, they couldn't win a race with a dead man
This would all be a whole lot easier for Obama if the Republicans like Pawlenty hadn't gotten us into two intractable wars, run us into record deficits, destroyed our economy, and destroyed our credibility.
The republican doctrine: Take anything the president does (as long as its a democratic president) and take the opposing position no matter how stupid it makes you look. It's working. You look like children. You will lose in 2012 and become even more crazy than you are now. That will make me happy.
I'm from Minnesota. Don't listen to a word Pawlenty says. I'm telling you.
Who cares what you think, Tim. You are just a blow-heart.
What amount of education or political background gives Tim Pawlenty the right to criticize our president on his handling of the Syria problem? This is nothing short of making noise so he will be noted in the news with his possible run for president. Anything to keep your face up front whether you have anything valuable to say or not. Why not learn something Mr, Pawlenty so you can really add to the situation, maybe a worthwhile thought that could have some substance, or is that too much trouble. Truth is you are wasting your time and money anyway "cause you ai'nt going anywhere anyway.!!!!!
I have never heard so many people be so ugly and disrepectful to the President as this latest bunch of GOPers. What they don't realize is, it says more about them than the President.
I guess because Pawlenty through around the "naive" word, that is supposed to show his lack of naivity on foreign affairs?
Pawlenty's deafening silence on Syria during the Bush administration is duly noted.
'naive" , I think Pawlenty is very very ambitious and uninformed to call our president naive !
Did Pawlenty say President Bush is naive regarding the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq ?
WALK YOUR TALK BUDDY !
I wish it stopped at naivety, but this man is just evil. Google "Obama fast and furious scandal" for a news story many news outlets other than CNN are covering today.
Sorry, but Pawlenty is a moron. So he's mad that Obama isn't going into Syria too?! Really? Lets do this one-at-a-time Pawlenty, we already have Paw-Lenty on our plate, mmmmkay?
Is there any oil in the region?
It's Bashar Assad, Tim, not "Bashir". And it sounds like you get your information about Syria from Glenn Beck.
Timmah you need to learn to pick your fights. There is no point in going into Syria, the unrest there isn't threatening the region. Furthermore we do not have the backing of the international community - unless you want to go it alone which would mean we would have to pick up the full price of the conflict by ourselves. No Thanks.
God forgive Pawlenty for he does not what he is saying. Pawlenty (plenty) of nonsense.
It's amazing how the GOP candidates keep jumping all over the page. Very little consistency in their message. First Pres Obama was criticized for not getting involved in Egypt; next he wasn't quick enough to commit to Libya followed by more criticism for committing to the UN Resolution and now that he us removing the troops from front line the GOP are off on another tangent.
What's next out of the GOP mouths.
So Pawlenty is trying to appeal to the Hugh Hewitt flock of paranoid sheep. Well, he just lost any chance at my vote.