(CNN) – Some of the Republican presidential candidates were sharply critical Friday of President Barack Obama for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. Read their statements below.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:
"President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."
(See Obama 2012 response at the bottom of this post, following candidate statements.)
Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota:
"Today's announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen. In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies. We will now have fewer troops in Iraq than we have in Honduras – despite a costly and protracted war."
"President Obama's decision represents the end of the era of America's influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran's influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure. The administration claims that we got exactly what we needed, but today's announcement demonstrates otherwise. The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues. I call on the president to return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world."
Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain
"Whether or not it’s the right thing to do, I would consult with the commanders. The thing I wouldn't do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you're going to bring out and when you are going to bring them out. I don't think that's a good strategy."
Former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman
"On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.
"President Obama’s decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures. The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts."
Texas Gov. Rick Perry
“I'm deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment by announcing an end to troop level negotiations and a withdrawal from Iraq by year's end. The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders.
"America's commitment to the future of Iraq is important to U.S. national security interests and should not be influenced by politics. Despite the great achievements of the U.S. military and the Iraqi people, there remain real threats to our shared interests, especially from Iran.
“The United States must remain a firm and steadfast ally for Iraq, maintaining an ongoing diplomatic, economic, and military to military partnership with this emerging democratic ally in the Middle East.
“As a veteran and commander-in-chief of national guard forces, I cannot express enough appreciation for our military service members who have protected and defended American interests in Iraq. Our Iraq war veterans made enormous sacrifices to make our nation and world safer, and I know all Americans will welcome them home with great pride and appreciation.”
Obama 2012 Campaign Reaction to Romney criticism
"The President kept his pledge to the nation to end the war in Iraq in a responsible way, he has promoted our security in Afghanistan and eliminated key Al Qaeda leaders while strengthening American leadership around the world. Mitt Romney didn't lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda – he barely even mentioned Iraq – but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission. Mitt Romney's foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas."
–Press Secretary Ben LaBolt