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. kevin c. from washington state

    so republicans agree with him but want to nitpick every detail of the descion he painstakingly made....of course they agree with the troop surge...typical war mongers that make up the party but they question the size of the surge and the fact that he even mentions a time for withdraw even though he makes it clear that it depends on the conditions on the ground.....the party of no and the party of "go against anything we can" to stay relevant.....all the republican "contenders" are just echoing the party which had earlier made similar statements about the details of obamas surge plan....the "contenders" are trying to keep themselves in the news while doing what they can to agree with their party....what s so sad is that the contenders are almost the exact same as last year...tired old white conservative men...well you can now count huckabee out...good riddance

    December 6, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  2. Four and The Door

    “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?”
    This is the difference between a man who has had significant and successful management experience and Barack Obama. Mitt Romney knows that bottom line means get the job done. Demand nothing less than success and your chances of getting it are much higher.

    Try to compromise and please every interest group and your chances of nobody winning are much higher. Nobody has been winning much in America in 2009. Health Care is the same problem. Nobody wins with what has been proposed by the Administration, the House or the Senate. It has been all about compromises just to get something done on Obama's timetable, not America's.

    December 6, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Petre

    Mr Romney: You are talking from both sides of your mouth, one side
    praised the President for sending more troops and the other side slams the President for his wisdom on taking his time to make the
    rigth decision and pulling out in 18 moths. The Republican are not
    playing politics with this, ha, am I stupid.

    By the way Sir, tell your sons to join our brave soldiers, we need good and brave men to fight for our country and then they will come back
    sooner than 18 months and help you run for President.

    December 6, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. marty

    I can only imagine how this country could prosper if the politicians such as Mitt Romney, Jon Kyle , Joe Lieberman and others would put the best interests of the American citizens first and their selfish party politics second or better yet, last. The Republicans love themes .. shock and awe come to mind; and they love silly drama....dropping the health bill to the floor has been the latest antic. I just wish they would all grow up and act like the statesmen they're supposed to be and adhere to the oath they've taken.

    December 6, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. 60's survivor

    usual stuff. seems to aplaud Obama decision then comes out with the same old slash and burn statements

    December 6, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  6. ProudLib

    Ooooops, evidently Mr. Romney forgot that even faint praise toward Obama gets you on the Rightwing Purge list. You sir, are not pure!

    December 6, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. Canadave

    Of course the facists support the war. When it comes to that they are the best. Health care and education? Not so much.

    December 6, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. Bring 'Em Home!

    Why in this world is WAR the only thing the politicians seem to be able to agree on?

    December 6, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. Jay

    Yeah let's stay there forever trying to win a war that we obviously can't. When will you Republicans/dummies ever learn? You can't invade another country and try to defeat the "insurgency". If the US was invaded by a foreign power wouldn't US citizens who love this country try to fight and defeat the occupiers? Of course they would. But I guess this is too simple for Republicans/idiots to understand.

    But anything to criticize Obama because you think you can do better in the next election. Shut up and go enjoy your money moron. The world is better off without you leading us.

    December 6, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. Dan

    Typical two faced republican.

    December 6, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  11. dave

    It is every citizen's duty to fully support the president during a time of war. Questioning the president or his policies is un-american and gives hope to the terrorists. I hope Romney and his fellow republicans can sleep well knowing their criticisms of Obama give hope and comfort to al queda.

    December 6, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  12. Larry

    Romney for president is as lame as Kerry for president in 2004, If that's the best the Republicans have to offer why bother?

    December 6, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  13. Rocky

    Took Romney long enough, a reporter called and asked Romney days ago, but Romney refused to answer. Let's see, it took DAYS for Romney to come up with an answer, a way to find a SLAM. Tisk, Tisk, Tisk, Romney has to think about how and where to find a SLAM.

    Romney is a joke. And has yet to come up with a good reason why he should be the one to replace Obama, or be the candidate to run in 2012. High School name calling and slamming doesn't cut being presidential material, and only shows Romney as a jerk.

    December 6, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  14. A. Smith, Oregon

    Of course Ole Morman Mitt would praise more soldiers being sent to die in Afghanistan, it signals Morman Mitt's desire for millions of defense contractor campaign dollars.

    December 6, 2009 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  15. Perusing-through


    It is clear Bush & Darth (Cheney) sent the minimum number of troops and gear to Afghanistan because they had plans to use the nation's limited resources in a pre-emptive war with Iraq.

    Nearly 7-years after Bush & Darth redirected valuable resources desperately needed in Afghanistan over to Iraq, and after 4,400+ dead and 45,000 wounded U.S. servicemen; plus 400,000 killed Iraqi citizens with 4-million displaced Iraqis; Darth Cheney has the nerve to accuse President Obama of dithering.

    December 6, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  16. jason B

    What's the Republocrats definition of a success in Afghanistan? You know why a troop surge works? It's the same reason why crime in New York City would be close to zero if you had a police officer on every street corner. They're all praising policing the Afghan people.

    What we need is an exit strategy, which NO ONE is speaking about anymore. We need ideas how to give the Afghans some sort of stable economy, decrease our dependency on the region's oil, etc.

    December 6, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  17. Randy

    Of course the religious/republican loves war. What's wrong with that picture?

    December 6, 2009 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  18. Joe

    I don't know what is the matter with these wacko leaders of ours. It all seem pretty simple to to me: First on the afghan situation, you just bring all the troops home, that eiminates that cost. Then if and when those islamic extremist start to assimilate, you fly in a drone and drop a few 2000 pound bombs on the area and you don't worry about killing civilians, it's part of war and they started it anyway. So simple, but these rednecks running our country don't get it or they are being paid not to get it...who knows. Then as far as health care goes: we put everyone on a national health care system on a 5 year trial period. Every family pays 25 hundred bux a year if we can afford it and we all have the same insurance. Those who cannot afford it as determined, we be supplemented as needed. This would be a 5 year trial period with adjustments as common sense deems necessary. All other government insurace becomes null and void as everyone is now covered under same one and only health care system. Everyone that lost their job would have plenty of opportunity to aquire emploment in the new system. I'd at least try it. I don't know why the democrats don't do it anyway. They have enough votes to ram it down the republicans throat. Sounds like a pay off to me. anyway joe roe for president

    December 6, 2009 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  19. smilearth

    Gone are the days of open ended commitment, which is why we find ourselves in the current mess left by the Bush administration. Does any body in the right frame of mind care for what Cheny or Romney thinks? Romney blew away over $20 million during last year bid for the GOP nomination. That very much says a lot about his fiscal, foreign and intellectual capability.

    December 6, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    Mitt you look small with your attacks- Can I tell you something you are smarter than you act. Leave the attacks for small minded people. At one time you were a serious thought leader. Now I am wonderinging you got lucky or are you serious. We have serious issues in this country and we need smart people to solve them.

    December 6, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  21. John

    Well, ofcourse the Republicans have had us at war for 9 years now and Mr. Romney thinks Obama has taken too much time on his decisions about the war. Right! I personally feel that his timeline is just fine. It forces the issue with Afganistan; the gotta make headway.
    And it gets us out of a war that is really more about energy than anything else. Lets control our energy indepence and spend our money on that!

    December 6, 2009 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  22. Obama/Biden

    Hello Mr. President You are certainly doing a great job and I like your agenda from the economy to healthcare and you are very honest with us when the republicans are not. They partner with the insurance company to lye to us with adds just to oppose change that is good for the people. Mr. President, I heard John McCain waiting to sit with you on Afghanistan and you should never sit with him and I believe that you have your advisors for that reason. So you do not need his advice. McCain went to war long time ago and the same old strategies that he has in his head from Vietnam cannot be used in Afghanistan because it is a different war. We need twenty first century approach for Afghanistan which I believe you and your advisors understand.

    December 6, 2009 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  23. Reagan was wrong

    Mitt Romney: an intellectual Mormon in a party of anti-intellectual Christians.

    I just don't get why he insists on associating with these dregs.

    December 6, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  24. John

    Everyone wants our President to succeed including Republicans. We all want terrorists to be captured or made ineffective. We all want affordable healthcare. What we don't want are decisions based on political agenda's to drive this nation into bankruptcy, or tyranny. Nobody in America want s war, everybody wants peace, but preserving freedom has a cost, both in lives and dollars. Wars are won by either 1) destroying the enemy, 2) Elliminating the enemies means to make war (how Germany was defeated), or 3) Elliminating the enemies desire to make war (How Japan was defeated).

    Too many American's are allowing our enemies to win, by backing down saying we are tired of war, it is time to come home. You people don't deserve the freedoms you have.

    December 6, 2009 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  25. B

    Unfortunately this may be Obama’s biggest error as he is following the Bush direction into an never ending resolution of this mess.

    Most Americans want us the hell out of that area which is not going to be self supporting for decades if not more. The literacy rate is about ten percent among the average population! This is inconceivable to attempt in a few years and will require support that Americans will not go along with..

    It is not Change from Bush and Obama is not going to get support for it.

    December 6, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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