Romney and Pawlenty join criticism of Obama on Libya
March 22nd, 2011
09:46 AM ET
12 years ago

Romney and Pawlenty join criticism of Obama on Libya

Washington (CNN) - Add Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty to the growing list of probable 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls who have criticized President Barack Obama's handling of the conflict in Libya.

The former Massachusetts governor, who ran for the White House in 2008, says Obama "calls for the removal of Moammar Gadhafi but then conditions our action on the directions we get from the Arab League and United Nations."

Romney made his comments Monday night on popular conservative radio talk show host Hugh Hewitt's program, adding that "thus far the President has been unable to construct a foreign policy, any foreign policy."

Pawlenty, in an interview, also criticized the president for not taking earlier action against the Libyan leader's military campaign against rebels, saying "a reasonable step like a no-fly zone done earlier, had we been decisive, I think, would have achieved not only the safety of the civilians that are now being assured or guaranteed by the UN resolution, but it also would have given the rebels the opportunity to capitalize on the momentum that they had a few weeks ago and push him out, and he needs to go."

Pawlenty, in an interview on Fox News Monday night, also pointed out that he was one of the first to call for a no-fly zone in Libya, in comments he made on March 7 in Iowa.

The former two-term Minnesota governor announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee Monday.

In recent days former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who is exploring a bid for the GOP presidential nomination, termed Obama as "spectator-in-chief" in regards to Libya. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who is flirting with a possible run for the White House, described the president's approach to Libya as "dithering".

Former Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennyslvania, another probable presidential candidate, in recent days critiqued the president's moves on Libya, saying the implementation of the no-fly zone came too late. Earlier this month Santorum was one of the first potential GOP candidates to call for action against Gadhafi.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who's seriously thinking of a presidential bid, has been more cautious in criticizing the president's actions on Libya.

Mike Huckabee has been critical of Obama as well, but also noted recently to CNN's Chief National Correspondent John King on "John King, USA" that "I don't have the NSA report sitting in front of me. So I'm always a little careful to say, here's what I would do."

The former Arkansas governor and 2008 Republican White House hopeful is thinking about running for his party's nomination again.

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, another possible contender, last week voiced her opposition to a U.S. military role in Libya, saying there was not enough intelligence about the forces fighting to oust Gadhafi.

Rep. Ron Paul of Texas claims the president's move to implement a no-fly zone is "unconstitutional" because Obama didn't seek Congressional authorization. Paul ran for the White House in 2008 and is considering another presidential bid.

So how do Americans feel about the president's actions?

According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation national poll released Monday, 50 percent of Americans approve of how Obama's handling the situation in Libya, with 41 percent saying they disapprove and nine percent unsure. The survey indicates the expected partisan divide, with nearly three-fourths of Democrats saying they approve of how the president's handling Libya, independents divided, and only 27 percent of Republicans saying they approve.

By a 57 to 42 percent margin, Americans say they trust Obama as commander in chief. The poll indicates a similiar partisan divide.

Filed under: Libya • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Tim Pawlenty
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. DB

    These attacks on Obama are silly. If Obama did nothing, republicans would complain that he did nothing. If he acted two weeks ago, they would say it was too early. Now they're saying its too late. The bottom line is that these republicans are just posturing and have nothing constructive to add to the conversation. Its a shame that we don't hold these clowns to a higher standard. It would be useful of they just shut their mouths and started thinking for once.

    March 22, 2011 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  2. IndyBoomer

    Yes, let's listen once again to the Republican politicians talk about what we should do regarding foreign policy. We finally have a commander-in-chief that is smart and thinks about the consequences before he acts and they tell us he moved too slowly and has no plan. Working with other nations on international problems is a GOOD thing and doesn't undermine America's authority. As a matter of fact, it gives us MORE credibility and makes us a stronger nation, Mr. Romney.

    March 22, 2011 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  3. AverageJim

    Probably he should have went for Congressional approval. But that would also have delayed the no fly zone, which many are saying didn't come fast enough.

    Had he implemented the no fly zone faster, it would have been without the United Nations agreeing, and without the Arab league agreeing. Both of these were vital to our international relations.

    Whatever Obama did those on the right would criticize him. Perhaps they should consider first, though, how much worse our international relations were under Bush before criticizing Obama's policies too deeply.

    March 22, 2011 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  4. Mike

    These guys will clearly criticize anything Obama does. If Obama had not taken military action, they would have criticized that. Now that he has taken military action, they criticize him for moving too slowly (by getting international diplomatic cover by getting approval for action and acting with the support of the Arab League, both of which were major diplomatic achievements which likely took incredible behind-the-scenes work). What would these guys rather have Obama do–unilaterally attack Libya without clear support from anyone, so that all of the US's enemy's good again characterize the US as a loose cannon/dangerous nation? Obama went about tis in the only way that could preserve the legitimacy of the military action in international eyes, and could prevent Gaddafi's regime from arguing that it is the victim.

    March 22, 2011 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  5. anonymous

    Didn't Republican leaders bash Obama when he wasn't doing anything. Now that Obama took action, Republicans are against this? What does the Republicans want?

    March 22, 2011 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
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