February 23rd, 2012
09:30 PM ET
2 years ago

Gingrich first to hit Obama for Afghanistan apology; suggests troop pullout

Spokane, Washington (CNN) – Newt Gingrich lambasted President Barack Obama for apologizing to Afghanistan's Hamid Karzai Thursday, suggesting the United States pull its troops out of the country after two American troops were killed Thursday.

Gingrich was the first Republican White House hopeful to criticize the president for apologizing after Muslim holy books containing extremist language were burned by NATO soldiers.

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Gingrich told a crowd in Spokane, Washington: "President Obama surrendered twice today and I think that deserves to be brought to the country's attention."

He continued, "The president apologized for the burning, but I haven't seen the president demand that the government of Afghanistan apologize for the killing of two young Americans."

Gingrich was referring to two American troops who were killed in Afghanistan Thursday. The troops were killed by a person wearing an Afghan National Army uniform, according to a U.S. official.

It is not clear if the troops were killed in revenge for the burning of Qurans, but the attack occurred at a base outside of which the demonstration was taking place, a local official said.

Gingrich raised questions about U.S. involvement in Afghanistan in light of the troops' deaths.

"My hunch is, since the person who killed them is an Afghan soldier, that that soldier was being paid with American money, armed with American money, trained with American money," Gingrich said.

The former House speaker delivered a stark warning to the Afghan leader, saying, "If Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn't feel like apologizing, then I think we should say good bye and good luck. We don't need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn't care."

The events in Afghanistan allowed Gingrich to build on a larger suggestion that the Obama administration does not stand up for religious freedom. He decried the Democratic president as someone who "abjectly crawls to apologize" to Afghanistan, a country with "religious fanatics."

"There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama's attention in a negative way, and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States, period," Gingrich said.

The two American troops killed are among at least nine people who have been killed near or amid demonstrations that have erupted in Afghanistan since the burning of the Islamic religious material by NATO troops at the beginning of the week. A military official said the religious materials had been removed from a detention center and burned because they contained "extremist inscriptions."

Gingrich claimed the incident "has now been blown into a huge incident by various fanatics in Afghanistan."

A statement Thursday from National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said Obama had spoken with Karzai Sunday, before it emerged that the religious material was burned. A written note from the President followed later in the week apologizing for the burning.

"Following up on their February 20 phone call, the president sent a letter to President Karzai to continue their discussion on a range of issues related to our long-term partnership," Vietor said. "In the letter, delivered by Ambassador Crocker this afternoon in Kabul, the President also expressed our regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled at Bagram Airbase."

Earlier Thursday former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin also went after Obama for his apology, writing on her Facebook page, "Obama apologizes for the inadvertent Koran burning this week; now the U.S. trained and protected Afghan Army can apologize for killing two of our soldiers yesterday.

Speaking to reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Republicans who claim the president is weak for apologizing were ignoring basic facts.

"That's a fully false, fallacious and ridiculous narrative that is not borne out by any facts," Carney said. "The President, following up on a telephone conversation, the likes of which he has routinely with President Karzai, wrote a long letter on a variety of issues related to our bilateral engagement, including reconciliation, including the trilateral talks with Pakistan last week in Islamabad, in which he also expressed his condolences – or rather, his apology for the inadvertent burning of religious materials by American personnel in Afghanistan."

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Filed under: 2012 • Afghanistan • Newt Gingrich
soundoff (50 Responses)
  1. Nothing new here

    Ron Paul is right.
    We just need to get the heck out of these countries.

    February 23, 2012 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  2. HenryB

    Oh, Newtster, here we go again. Why am I not surprised by this weasel?

    February 23, 2012 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. Joe The Plumber

    Who cares what the "I can see Russia from my house" GOPer has to say about foreign affairs!

    February 23, 2012 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  4. koolman

    One thing for sure about the gop is they will NEVER apologize for anything no matter how wrong they are.

    February 23, 2012 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  5. ImNoDhimmi

    Go Newt!

    February 23, 2012 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  6. jrm03063

    To the extent that the President of the United States issues statements of this kind, he does so in consultation and at the behest of theater commanders – who advise him to make such an apology in furtherance of their mission. Making politics of matters where American lives are on the line demonstrates – fundamentally – Mr. Gingrich's lack of fitness for leadership. He should be deeply and eternally ashamed of his remarks.

    February 23, 2012 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  7. ingrid

    Of course Newt was going to criticize the president. What is new? I think it is a race every day btw the GOP candidates on who gets to attack the President. It just so happened in this case, Newt won the race.

    February 24, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  8. Jason

    Go ahead and burn the Bible in front of a group of evangelicals or go give the Pope the bird and see if you can get away with it with just an apology.

    February 24, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  9. Bern in Western PA

    Yeah Newt, he should have shouted "screw you people" and set off a nuclear device instead. Newt=Goldwater.

    February 24, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  10. The GOP opens mouth and inserts foot

    And if a group of muslims were to burn a Guttenberg bible, you wouldn't be the first in line to demand they apologize?

    Get real, Newt. It's called diplomacy, something the GOP knows nothing about.

    February 24, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  11. Fair is Fair

    Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    So ... if the Afghans were to burn Bibles that would be ok with you?
    ------
    In most of the muslim countries, not only do they burn Bibles if they find them, they also burn the owner.

    February 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  12. tembousa

    I hope someone makes a montage of all of Obama's bowing, apologies to enemies, apologies to terrorists, kissing and hugging to islamofascists and runs it as an ad in the general election with some appropriate background music, like "I'm sorry" sung by a woman

    February 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  13. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    Lambasted 1.mean to beat or whip severely 2. to reprimand or berate harshly; excoritate also lambast. Poor newt just don't understand how thing works. President Obama apology for the inadvertent burning of religious materials by American personnel in Afghanistan that all. Poor newt trying to make a come back , newt don't what was said between President Barack Obama and Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai Thursday,

    February 24, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  14. ushj

    if America truly wants to be a leader in the international community, then in addition to military superiority, we need to maintain a consistently high standard of morals and ethics. we talk of religious tolerance and understanding, so it only stands to reason that we should show respect to the different cultures our military is involved with. without that understanding and moral standard – the second of which seems to be a GOP talking point – you're simply the bully with the biggest gun and deserve no respect or position of leadership.

    February 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  15. Das Racist

    You've been playing the race card long before everyone else.

    February 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  16. Ralph in Orange Park, FL

    Newt is playing to his redneck base. He is right that the US should get out of Afghanistan now.

    February 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  17. ushj

    if America truly wants to be a leader in the international community, then in addition to military superiority, we need to maintain a consistently high standard of morals and ethics. we talk of religious tolerance and understanding, so it only stands to reason that we should show respect to the different cultures our military is involved with. without that understanding and moral standard – the second of which seems to be a GOP talking point – you're simply the bully with the biggest weapon and deserve no respect or position of leadership.

    February 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  18. Wayne

    God help us all if someone like Gingrich gets into the White House. A personality like his would lead us to war. He acts hastily, without maturity and morals; his type is frowned on in America today. Of course he has a problem with what Obama does. He's probably going to cry himself to sleep when Obama wins re-election.

    I personally can't stand Newt. He reminds me of every person I've chosen to avoid in life. He reminds me of people in high places who do damage. He reminds me of what is wrong with America.

    February 24, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  19. ushj

    if America truly wants to be a leader in the international community, then in addition to military superiority, we need to maintain a consistently high standard of morals and ethics. we talk of religious tolerance and understanding, so it only stands to reason that we should show respect to the different cultures our military is involved with. without that understanding and moral standard – the second of which seems to be a GOP talking point – you're simply the biggest bully in the room and deserve no respect or position of leadership.

    February 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  20. twophad

    Desperate words from a failing campaign

    February 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  21. neastsider

    Newtie should apologize to the world for masquerading as a human being.

    February 24, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  22. Nuttie Newet

    Newt is anti America. By criticizing the commander-in-chief of an army at war he has disrespected the sacrifice made by the soldiers, demotivated and insulted our army by criticizing their commander-in-chief. Newt should apologize for his anti American and anti Army stance and should do it now (maan I sound like a republican during Geroge Bush Era!!)

    February 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. glorydays

    Between Newt and Obama, who acts more Christian?

    February 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  24. drp146

    He may have saved the lives of more American soldiers by trying to cool down the hatred stirred by this incident. I'm perfectly fine with that. We know the right wing is going to criticize anything he does, ANYTHING! So what.

    February 24, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  25. Karen Fulster

    Of course we should apologize. Can you imagine if foreign troops were in the U.S. (invited or not) burning Bibles? Many Americans wouldn't act much different. I'd be guessing Newt might be leading the riots in response to that. How said that our errors sparked such awful problems. But, they were errors. My heart goes out to those who lost their lives. How sad that this ever began.

    February 24, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
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