February 23rd, 2012
09:30 PM ET
8 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. Jake

    Newt, I don't think anyone is listening to you anymore.

    February 23, 2012 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  2. 60's survivor

    Newt go back under your rock. Toady!!!

    February 23, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. brian in denver

    Hey Newt – It's called respectful diplomacy. Something you know nothing about.

    February 23, 2012 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  4. Voice of Reason

    The whole idea that we can insult people beliefs with impunity is so against what our founding fathers believed in! Gingrich the famous historian knows that! But instead he chooses to pipe up with the arrogant, small-minded opinion that THEY arent like US, so what they believe doesnt matter. In fact, he seems to think that not only does it not matter, but just the fact that THEY believe it makes it utterly beneath our contempt.

    I used to think that Newt was just a pompous and loudmouthed gasbag. But now he shows himself as a religious bigot as well (I doubt that he would let such a slight pass if our soldiers had, say, burned an effigy of the pope, or something).

    February 23, 2012 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  5. MWM

    When a real man makes a mistake, he takes responsibility and says"I'm sorry". A bully says"so what". As commander in chief Obama said what needed to be said.

    February 23, 2012 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
  6. Darla (Edmonton, Canada)

    So ... if the Afghans were to burn Bibles that would be ok with you? If anything disqualifies Newt Gingrich from decent humanity, its this. Wake up America ... you really want this guy to represent you?

    February 23, 2012 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Newt is trying to be nuttier than Santorum. Rick thinks the Pope is too liberal for the catholic church, and Newt wants to get some of that right wing attention too.

    February 23, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  8. Voice of Reason

    Newt may be the first to bring it up – but that's only because he has the least self-control. Give it 24 hours, and we'll hear from the rest of the mindless pandering machines running for the GOP nom.

    February 23, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  9. Russ

    Yep criticize Obama for damage contol. The alternative is hate filled vengence against our troops stationed there. Republicans have no concern for their safety.

    February 23, 2012 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  10. Voice of Reason

    All four of the so-called 'candidates' running for GOP nomination will be falling over themselves to prove (on camera) who is the biggest religious bigot – hoping to score a 1 or 2 percent bump from the most narrow-minded segment of the GOP base.

    It makes my stomach turn.

    February 23, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  11. Ali

    You're in their country. You have to respect their culture. Is it really worth it to upset over a billion people? Forget whether you think they should be mad or not. You have men and women stationed over there. Do you really want to put their lives more at risk than they already are? You are training Afghans and providing them with automatic weapons. Is it worth it to have one turn around and shoot our soldiers over this? Gingrich, you are a complete idiot, and don't even pretend for a single second you care about American soldiers in Afghanistan. I served two tours in Iraq. Gingrich, it would make no difference to you if my wife became a widow.

    February 23, 2012 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  12. Voice of Reason

    And finally, Palin says, "...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..." – In a misguided effort to prove that two wrongs actually DO make a right.

    February 23, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  13. Andrew Eden-Balfour

    Afghan civilians killed those U.S. soldiers, not the government, and why should they apologize? what the U.S. army did was nothing short of a giant cultural blunder. How would you respond if radical christians killed solidiers after they burned the bible?

    February 23, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  14. Troy in Austin

    Gingrich seems to WANT 10s of thousands of people to rise up against us all over the world. He tries to sound tough, he thinks it will help his dwindling chances. He would not take this seriously, and if you disrespect their religion your as bad as they are! But he is new to apologizing only started a few years ago!

    February 23, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  15. Norm

    Are there two more irrelevant opinions than Newt and Sarah's?

    February 23, 2012 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  16. RonPaulisALunatic

    Obama hates America. I want my country back.

    February 23, 2012 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Luke

    Gingrinch is grasping at anything. He continues to make a fool of himself. It takes the bigger man to apologize,that's why he is in fourth place.

    February 23, 2012 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
  18. larry

    Am sorry two soliders died.We burned their book first.if they came to our country a burned bibles we would do drastic thing too.Im a democrat but ron pauls view on our military is looking good

    February 23, 2012 07:13 pm at 7:13 pm |
  19. Knew

    Yes he didn't apologize because we are over there illegally. We are the ones occupying that damn country! When we will realize Afghanistan will never stop fighting!

    February 23, 2012 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  20. allens

    newts opinion is about as important as having cains indorsement

    February 23, 2012 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  21. ihavetoagree

    I tend to support the pres when he us needlessly attacked for everything he does, but I think he should not apologize to these extremist effers.

    February 23, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. cw

    AMEN!!!!

    February 23, 2012 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  23. SafeJourney

    Newt, and what would you do?? Huh?? You are done Newt. Pack it up a go home

    February 23, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Love is never having to say your sorry.

    Ask Newt's ex wifes.

    February 23, 2012 07:57 pm at 7:57 pm |
  25. indigo

    Every time Newt Gingrich speaks out on the President's actions or inactions, he sinks to a new level of low, only to reveal himself as a badly qualified contender for the job he seeks.

    February 23, 2012 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
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