TRENDING: Pawlenty: Obama administration 'naive' on Syria
March 28th, 2011
09:24 PM ET
3 years ago

TRENDING: Pawlenty: Obama administration 'naive' on Syria

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."


Filed under: 2012 • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (170 Responses)
  1. Wayne

    Naive? Wake up Sir.

    Barrack Obama is the finest President America has known in many decades. Zip it. It's an election season, and everyone can see right through your empty comments.

    March 29, 2011 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  2. Mike Chino Hills, Ca

    What the heck is Pawlenty talking about? Maybe we should have John McCain setting policy in the middle east, and not having a clue on how to operate a computer. Now thats Naive :)

    March 29, 2011 12:27 am at 12:27 am |
  3. I bet

    If and when Obama authorizes U.S. planes to bomb Syrian targets, this guy will be one of the first to blast the president on his decision.

    March 29, 2011 12:29 am at 12:29 am |
  4. FacebookPolitician

    I think we can tell by this man's abysmal polling how seriously to take him.

    March 29, 2011 01:03 am at 1:03 am |
  5. TheTraveler

    “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.

    I though we were past the Bush-era foreign relations policies ... Someone should tell Pawlenty ...

    March 29, 2011 01:14 am at 1:14 am |
  6. p

    Who's really the naive one here, Tim?

    March 29, 2011 01:19 am at 1:19 am |
  7. Marry

    Yes, another GOP expert on what should be done! Tim Pawlenty the big “freedom fighter” indeed! Unbelievable the critic coming from a failed background of “evaluations”. Remember “mission accomplished”?

    March 29, 2011 01:31 am at 1:31 am |
  8. whoosh

    Ok, What would you do timmy. America is sick of you poortential hopeful playing second guessing, whining, crying. What
    are your alternatives? What do you offer? What are you bringing to the table? Dissing Obama just doesn't do it for me. What
    do you have, how will you fix it? timmy, chrisse, backman, palin,mickey, Duffus, haley, Minny, rickey...How?

    March 29, 2011 01:34 am at 1:34 am |
  9. CincyRulz

    And if Obama hadn't sent an ambassador, he'd be saying he should have. And when economic sanctions are imposed, he'll say they shouldn't be. It's in the Republican rulebook.

    March 29, 2011 01:43 am at 1:43 am |
  10. Michael

    Pawlenty is the one who should be recalled. Why isn't he paying more attention to the problems in his STATE? What are the foreign affairs credentials of the former governor of a state that includes representatives like michelle bachmann?

    March 29, 2011 01:57 am at 1:57 am |
  11. Chris

    Pawlenty calls for Obama to recall the ambassador to Syria and toughen sanctions. Let me gues, if the President actually did that, Pawlenty would denounce him for it and say what a naive idea it was.

    If Obama does A, Republicans say he should have done B. If he does B, they say he should have done A. The GOP has bcome like a twisted version of Monty Python's "Argument Clinic" – where they automatically gainsay whatever Obama does.

    March 29, 2011 02:09 am at 2:09 am |
  12. glenn robert

    Pawlenty suffers from hoof in mouth disease! Sending an ambassador to Syria did not suddenly make it a country.

    March 29, 2011 02:10 am at 2:10 am |
  13. NYC REPUB

    Pawlenty......you lack the gravitas to comment on foreign policy........The GOP is a big fluke....Obama has incorporated the doctrine of the GOP circa Nixon w/ a pinch of Teddy Roosevelt....He is what the GOP used to be. WWI, and WWII were overseen and executed by Presidents \' way more liberal than this one.......Obama is a centrist, and I love it......
    Obama 2012!!!!

    March 29, 2011 02:43 am at 2:43 am |
  14. Debbie

    From a guy who was Gov of a state with their whole population smaller than some of the largest cities in America. Little foreign policy experience, little domestic policy, must have a big ego and lots of money as he is hardly qualified to be President! Maybe he has deep pocket puppet masters.

    March 29, 2011 02:45 am at 2:45 am |
  15. BeverlyNC

    And exactly what does Pawlenty know about foreign policy? I think he is the "naive" one to even think he could ever be President, much less be qualified to make foreign policy decisions. President Obama handled this Libya perfectly and Republicans just can't stand another Obama success. Idiot McCain stated he wanted us to have gone in there alone. Republicans are warmongers, liars, and not one is qualified to lead anything.

    March 29, 2011 02:47 am at 2:47 am |
  16. Anonymous

    This from the idiot who backed Sarah Palin and Michele Bachman?? Who is naive can Pawlenty even name the last two leaders of Syria?? I doubt this guy has any clue about the history of the middle east, its culture, or its political significance.

    March 29, 2011 02:56 am at 2:56 am |
  17. Elphaba

    Thank God a Republican isn't in the White House. We'd be at war with the entire Middle East by now.

    March 29, 2011 03:15 am at 3:15 am |
  18. jules sand-perkins

    A Pawlenty presidential administration would be naïve about everything.

    March 29, 2011 04:30 am at 4:30 am |
  19. CHUCK

    Who care what this guy has to say. Why is this news?

    March 29, 2011 05:09 am at 5:09 am |
  20. The Other Dale

    Hmm... looks like some Republicans are bailing on the whole "Obama is wrong about Libya" thing now that they see they were wrong and he actually was right. What's the next topic for them to abandon? Guess they can always go back to the birthers' argument if Obama keeps doing the right thing. Oh wait – Trump is already there, having completely given up.

    March 29, 2011 05:21 am at 5:21 am |
  21. obama retoric

    REALLY, and you are saying this now, obama is like the rest of his race, give me government support, give me welfare and then i will sell drugs to get my cadilac, what we need to do is ship obama and his family back to kenya where he was really born.

    March 29, 2011 05:44 am at 5:44 am |
  22. gw

    Given the dangerous situation throughout the Middle East, it would be wise for those politicians who know very little about international relations to remain quiet. They are undermining the country when they attack the President who has access to intelligence, must think in terms of the national interest of the American people, and is responsible for the lives of those who are overseas protecting us. Palwenty is just another little politician whose only position is, "how do I weaken Obama."

    March 29, 2011 05:46 am at 5:46 am |
  23. Shannon

    Does any Republican have anything to offer other than hate and critisism. They have no ideas, no solutions, no vision. Their whole platform is just hating the President. Not exactly leadership qualities.

    March 29, 2011 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  24. Limbaugh is a liberal

    Have you noticed that all these republicans were completely SILENT about Lybia nad Syria for the past decade? That they too just waited until AFTER they knew Obama's response to make up their mind about the situation? (and that response, gasp!, was to oppose whatever Obama did)
    Where were these hard-line republicans when Bush Jr. accepted visits from Syria's royalty? Where were these hard-line republicans when Bush Jr. lifted sanctions on Lybia and re-established normal diplomatic relations with Gadhafi? They were all SILENT!
    Oh, and let us not forget those republicans who even told us we need to support these tyrants because muslim self-determination will inevitably lead to an Islamic republic, instead of the repressive puppet tyrants we have come to prefer instead.

    March 29, 2011 06:09 am at 6:09 am |
  25. Terry

    Pawlenty is a weak hitter.

    March 29, 2011 06:12 am at 6:12 am |
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