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. MattM

    I love how he gave himself and his fellow republicans a pat on the back for not turning it into a "political footbal game"! First of all, all agreement from that side has been mixed with criticism of the time table. Second, if you have to note how cool it is that repubs didn't turn ONE thing into a partisan, inciteful, hateful pisssing match, mabey your side should rethink their strategy.

    December 6, 2009 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  2. Helen

    We should draft his sons to shut this loser up.

    December 6, 2009 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  3. JMikey54

    If he had not given a time line for us to "begin" withdrawal they would have accused him of not having an exit strategy. You can not win with these people.

    December 6, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  4. Dan In FL

    Whether or not you believe Obama should be sending additional troops into Afghanistan, he has done the right thing by setting a goal for success: an improvement in Afghan security that allows those troops to be removed by July 2011. Setting objectives is something successful businesses do all the time. Exactly why pro-business Republicans would not be in favor of setting a goal for reducing troop levels rather than fighting an endless war without a plan is beyond me.

    December 6, 2009 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  5. John in Iowa

    Well it seems to be obvious that setting an exit date certainly had an effect on Karzai as he came out today asking for patience and spluttering about may not be ready in time.
    Looks like setting a date has lit a fire under him and put the pressure on him to get things sorted. That has to be a good thing right?

    December 6, 2009 06:00 pm at 6:00 pm |
  6. Chad

    “Republicans are saying ‘Yeah, he’s done the right thing here.’”
    That should be a clue to the president that he is NOT doing the right thing here.

    December 6, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  7. mark

    Future Mr. President, it is too bad that you are not currently in office as your sound decision making and financial prudence would go a long way in fixing this socialist mess we are embarking upon.

    December 6, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    After various polls are released whereby Obama has a 60%+ approval rating on various topics concerning Afghanistan, Romney jumps on the bandwagon. Nice leadership, Mitt. agreeing with the obvious and further trying to distance yourself from fearless, Jet-Pilot nad his miserably-failed policies.

    What's next, you'll decide that water is indeed wet?

    December 6, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. Bill Sampson

    Notice that none of Romey's five sons are going to Afghanistan. Some folks love war, so long as they never have to fight. Same old sad tune.

    Mittens, you will never be president. Don't bother yourself with these public "statements".

    December 6, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  10. Ted from Calif.

    Why is it that Republican christians always seem to support war. Doesn't one of the Ten Commandments say Thou Shalt Not Kill? Supporting war doesn't seem very christian to me but then I'm not a member of the psuedo christian party.

    December 6, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  11. someone who does something other than critize, oh wait!

    I think it is very instructive how many critical and uninstructive comments have been posted. It proves to me that the core problem is not in American leaders, but in the citizens that elect them.

    December 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  12. StevieB

    Mitt Romney – always a follower.

    Got any ideas of your own or are you waiting for the other republicans to tell you what they are?

    December 6, 2009 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  13. Mark, Phoenix

    This bag of douche should dispatch his progeny to fight the good fight post haste. Otherwise he must stop tooting his horn and hand it back to Moroni. He ain't man enough for the job.

    December 6, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. Scott

    Romney, Another idiot GOPer! Where is the real conservative party that is for the American people? How is this Bush supporter still showing up! Got to be crazy, if you believe this Romney character.

    December 6, 2009 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  15. Donald

    Why CNN is wasting time printing the senseless meanderings of a complete loser is beyond me. The last time we saw this jerk, he was with his sorry sons who found a million ways to weasel themselves from heading to Iraq, so I can understand why a nitwit like Romney could not understand the strategy. CNN, please stop posting this drivel because you're lowering your journalistic standards by doing so.

    December 6, 2009 07:20 pm at 7:20 pm |
  16. Proud to be a Republican

    I find it so funny that all the Democrats all of a sudden approve of continuing the war that they've been blaming Bush on. They were constantly pounding Bush to end the wars, but Bush continued them. Second, Bush had promised a withdrawal, but never was able to carry it out because his term ended. Now, Obama, proposes to continue the war, and all of a sudden, Democrats turn a blind eye, and say "ok, continue to the wars, fine with me." And who in the real world thinks that Obama can end a war by 2011, when he takes at least a month to make a decision. By the time he makes the decision in 2011 to begin actually removing troops, he'll be hard pressed while running for reelection. Stop making empty promises, Obama.

    December 6, 2009 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  17. jack

    Romney is like Cheney, a draft dodger. What about Romney's sons entering the service? Why does he use his millions to keep them out of the military. Just like Repukes, say one thing and do another.

    This is another example of why we need to have a draft. All serve or no one serves.

    Romney is a bigger loser than Palin, and she has proven she is a loser.

    December 6, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. Ron

    Man, some of these comments. Such hate. The nazis were very skilled at unifying their constituency by focusing hatred inward on a target demographic. And the Democrats are doing exactly that right now, relentlessly. Please stop. Towel off. Wipe your chins. You've gotten yourselves so lathered up about The Big Satan (anything touched by conservatives), but what you're hating is stuff out of a comic book, not accurately reflecting the complexities of what really happened. No doubt in reading this, many will just go nuts trying to justify their hate. But do remember: you're responsible for your hate, not anyone else. You guys won the election and a year later, you're all still apoplectic with the hate of the past.

    December 6, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  19. proud dem in nc

    Gee Mitt, we are all just hanging on your every word. You are so knowledgeable.. not!!!! What you are is a failed presidential candidate. You will FAIL again at a bid for the nomination if you are stupid enough to run again. You know nothing. Play a new tape.

    December 6, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  20. Republicans are the American Taliban

    America also questions the wisdom of belonging to religious cults....

    December 6, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  21. jules sand-perkins

    Romney is absolutely correct, both in his support of the 30,000 troops and in his criticism of the withdrawal timeline.

    Notice how many persons who actually are intelligent agree with Romney. Is it only by chance that many of them are Republicans? I think not.
    Languages are living things; as such, they change, life being change. In these CNN comments regarding politics, and especially regarding Obama, the meaning of "intelligent," according to frequent usage, is becoming "a Democrat," "dependent on the gubment (sic)," and "deconstructionistic of Western culture," among other vehemently hateful and racist definitions.
    No, guys–Mr. Romney is what an intelligent man is.

    December 6, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  22. Susan/Colorado

    Slamming again....what's new?

    December 6, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  23. macy

    Poor ole Mitt, no answers, but he does know how to complain. He's become a real twitster.

    December 6, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  24. Anne

    Notice, you can never please a Republican....something is always wrong! Whine whine whine.

    December 6, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  25. Carly

    Cry us a river Romney.

    December 6, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
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