December 6th, 2009
03:50 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney praises Afghan surge, slams confusion about timeline


Washington (CNN) – A potential contender for the 2012 Republican presidential nod praised President Obama’s decision to surge 30,000 additional troops into Afghanistan and, at the same time, questioned the wisdom of Obama’s decision to announce a date to begin to draw down the additional troops.

President Obama used a speech at West Point last week to announce that he has ordered 30,000 additional troops to be sent to Afghanistan as part of a new, refocused strategy intended to quell the Taliban and help the Afghan government build up its own security forces. As part of the new strategy, Obama also said last week that the U.S. would begin to remove those additional troops in July 2011, depending upon the conditions on the ground in the war-torn country.

“I think he’s made the right decision with regards to Afghanistan in a general direction,” former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union.

“And, by the way, you’re noting that Republicans are not making this a political football,” the former White House hopeful added. “Republicans are saying ‘Yeah, he’s done the right thing here.’”

But, Romney’s praise of Obama quickly turned to criticism.

“It took him a long time,” Romney said of Obama’s 3-month deliberation process. “That was a mistake, of course.

“I think he is mistaken also in sending these conflicting and confusing signals about the timeline because you don’t want in any way to have [Pakistan or Afghanistan] thinking that somehow we’re only in there for 18 months and then we’re getting out no matter what. That’s not the message you want to have heard.”

Romney also questioned Obama’s judgment in providing Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan with 30, 000 additional troops when McChrystal had reportedly requested 40,000 more.

“My first question is not, ok, how do I get it down to 30,000?” Romney told CNN Chief National correspondent John King. “My first question is what’s the right number?”

“I think [Obama] may have been a little unwise to cut back on that number,” Romney said Sunday. “But we sure hope [Obama’s surge] works,” the Republican added.

Romney’s comments echoed those of Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl who said earlier on State of the Union that Republicans generally supported Obama’s decision to order the surge.

But “I think he has complicated matters by having this firm beginning-of-withdrawal date” of July 2011, added Kyl.

“The reason I said it complicates matters is that in war, will matters, “explained Kyl, “In fact, the whole object of war is to break the will of the enemy to fight.”

soundoff (101 Responses)
  1. Enitan

    Considering he is cleaning up ALL the mess that the previous administration made, the Republican party should be praising him for bringing dignity back to this country.

    December 6, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  2. Former Republican now proud Dem! Obama 2 Termer!

    What a loser! after complaining and criticizing and showing no leadership and having no plans and being hated by his own party for being a mormon and will never be nominated to be president this loser thinks a few praises will change our minds sorry buddy! You are a sorry excuse for a Republican!

    December 6, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  3. Faye

    Whoops. If Romney "and other Republicans" say this is the right thing to do maybe it's not. Their judgement hasn't been very good with a lot of stuff lately, namely very important health care reform. 30,000 troops cost 30 billion and they still balk at health care reform. I do have a problem with that.

    December 6, 2009 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  4. J Huff

    Alright, let's continue to make more money for all of the multi-national companies and contractors in the area.
    Let's alienate more of the populations in the area.
    Let's take more time to reach the conclusion that we can't win, just as the British and Russians came to realize.
    Let's endanger the stability of Pakistan even more.

    December 6, 2009 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  5. Robert

    Every statement he made was politically calculated. And it is all rubbish. The generals have stated the timeline is an important part of the new policy. And the idea that Obama took time to do such a thorough review and come to a decision was too long is also nonsense. The general is getting his new troops twice as fast as he requested. The time the president took had no affect on it.

    When Kyle says he has a 'firm' withdrawl date, he is not telling the truth. The president has always said the withdrawl is conditional upon the situation on the ground at the time.

    Quit playing politics Republicans. God, to think I was once a committed Republican. It changed after Reagan. Have never voted Republican since.. Get rid of the religious nutjobs who control your party and you may see some of us more moderate voters come back...

    December 6, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. John in Iowa

    “And, by the way, you’re noting that Republicans are not making this a political football,”
    And then he goes on to criticize everything about it, lol.

    December 6, 2009 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  7. Paulee

    What a statesman...he was very gracious, again...does not ever say a bad word about anyone...but gently gets his message across..That is a Gift....Hope we get the video for those who did not see it....What a hard worker, but it is in his DNA, I just know he loves what he is doing...It shows....from good comes goodness!!!!!Romney 2012.....

    December 6, 2009 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  8. Lynne in CA

    As an American citizen I am very thankful that our President took his time to analyze the Afghanistan war before committing more of our troops and resources. After the past administration jumped into the Iraq war based on faulty and discredited information, I find President Obama's thoughtful and measured analysis of the situation to be the correct response.

    December 6, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  9. Independent

    The repubs scares me more than the Talibans

    December 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. JM

    The way I see it is that the withdrawal of troops will have to start months before the actual final date and therefore the rest of the world will know in advance that we're withdrawing, so it wouldn't have been much of a secret anyways, so I really don't get why Republicans are making such a huge deal out of this (other than to just be difficult, which I think they just can't help (and Democrats would be the same way if the situation were reversed)).

    December 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  11. munyaami ali

    Republican should realy leave Obama to protect the Americans. they r the ones who caused the problem, failed 2 solve it, now making all sorts noise.

    December 6, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  12. Woonsocket

    Oh lordy.....with patriots voicing support of the Obama Afghan policy Obama's base (the anti-partiots) is going to starte ripping at him like a pack of mad dogs.

    December 6, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    Im a decmorat and big Obama supporter and I think Obama is doing a excellent job as president so far.. However i will say that if i HAD to vote for any republican it would be Mitt Romney.. Mitt Romney is very sharp, has good business sense and he just has that presidential leadership quality to him.

    Unfortunatley the republican electorate only care about God, Guns and Gays and will most likely nominate Sarah Palin for the nominee in 2012 as opposed to someone vastly more qualified like Mitt Romney. Oh well, if Sarah is nominated ill be happy because that will ensure another Obama Victory.

    December 6, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  14. C Spurgeon

    Romney the plastic man is a loser in politics and should go away and count his money.He compliments the president if they happen to be in agreement and rips him on aqll other issues. The country showed what they thought of him lastm time and will do so again although No objection to him tyhrowing some more of his money at the thing. That may help economy and keep a few slugs employed...

    December 6, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  15. The GOP Reaper

    Hey Romney, he didn't wittle the number of troops down. He got Jones to go to his NATO buddies and pony up another 7-10k to make up the difference...which is good, because its about time they carry a more significant burden. Why should we provide 100% of the troops over there....if it's an international threat, it should be handled by an international force.

    Oh, and timelines? How about Vietnam..never a timeline issued, no ends or strategy defined..look where that got us.

    And as for them not feeling good about whether we'll be there or not after 18 months, etc., it's about time after we've been there EIGHT YEARS for them to grow up and take care of themselves. We are not Afghan nannies. It's called responsibility. If they want to govern themselves, they need to take responsibility. IF they want to lay back and let thugs like taliban or al qaeda run their lives, then let them. It's not OUR country. We've done enough. They need to do the rest.

    December 6, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. NotFooledTX

    What experience or credentials does Romney have that make him an expert on running a war? Oh, that's right...nothing, he's has nothing. Keep whining like a schoolgirl Mittens, it suits you.

    December 6, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  17. speely

    the busier this gang is killing people in war, the better. same bunch of killers is promissing the us good "health". Since when do those who boast of killing people presume to stand for a humanity like medicine? I hope they get buried in the quagmire of thier hatred and greed.

    December 6, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  18. Preston kathy

    Preston kathy the gop does not want to leave irac or afghanistan oil is more important then military lives i know friends that say we lost 57000 lives in vietnam we only lost 4000 in irac to my way of thinking one life is to many the gop kmw we can not win this war vietnam veteran

    December 6, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  19. philthetruth

    Okay Mitt, go ahead and play the middle and see what happens...

    December 6, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  20. C. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    President Obama is right to announce an exit strategy and anyone who disagrees with him agrees with Karzai because he likes Bush's plan more, stay and keep paying his corrupt government. Pakistan is no friend either because they have the capability and technology to have built a nuclear weapon then surely they have the capability of capturing bin Laden. They haven't and they won't because it doesn't serve in their best interest with no concern of ours. President Obama has a clear picture of what's playing out in the Middle East and knows we can't keep playing their games, it's time to go. Bush didn't ask questions just gave out money which pleased Karzai and Pakistans government.

    December 6, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  21. Gary

    How does President Obama make a republican happy? Escalate a war. Can't do it by helping Americans.
    Mitt and the # 1 war monger McCain, if the Iraq surge was so succsessful. 2 years later why are Americans still dying over there?

    December 6, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. JP

    “And, by the way, you’re noting that Republicans are not making this a political football,” the former White House hopeful added. “Republicans are saying ‘Yeah, he’s done the right thing here.’”

    No no no no no Mr.Romney. You are certainly NOT saying he's done the right thing here because you're focusing entirely on the fact that he set a GOAL! What is wrong with the republican's when they slam the president over GOALS? Are we seriously going there? Are all the republican's on the phone laughing about how they're getting everything they want and eating their cake, too? The republican's are being absolutely horrible to Obama. They are completely ungrateful for what just happened.

    December 6, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  23. Ohioans for Obama

    Well, is it a football, or is it not? You cannot have it both ways, Mitt.

    December 6, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  24. S M R

    Mitt slams The timeline because Republican's want never ending wars.

    December 6, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  25. gary

    I thought the repubs lost the election?Who cares about their failed policies?

    December 6, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
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