2012 GOP candidates react to Obama's speech on Afghanistan
June 22nd, 2011
08:38 PM ET
11 years ago

2012 GOP candidates react to Obama's speech on Afghanistan

(CNN)-Candidates seeking the 2012 GOP nomination for president responded to President Obama's Wednesday night speech on Afghanistan troop withdrawals.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman: "With America mired in three expensive conflicts, we have a generational opportunity to reset our position in the world in a way that makes sense for our security as well as our budget.

The war in Afghanistan is an asymmetrical war, and our approach ought to adjust accordingly. Our troops have done everything we've asked them to. They've routed the Taliban, dismantled Al Qaeda, and facilitated democratic elections.

Now it is time we move to a focused counter-terror effort which requires significantly fewer boots on the ground than the President discussed tonight.

We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat. The War on Terror is being fought against a global enemy, and it is critical that we have the resources to fight them wherever they're found."

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney
: “We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn’t adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan. This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America’s brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead.”

Businessman Herman Cain
: President Obama's statement tonight is a stark reminder that while one might campaign in poetry, one must govern in prose.

While all Americans hope and pray for a speedy, victorious resolution to the war in Afghanistan that prevents the continued loss of our national treasures- our men and women in uniform- and our national treasury, how we define an honorable exit remains to be seen.

The President suggested that we cannot become isolationist or engage in every international conflict, but instead, we must charter a "middle course." How does he define this? It seems to be yet another foggy foreign policy coming from this administration.

Instead of providing the American people with clarity, President Obama proposes an abrupt withdrawal of our troops that could potentially compromise the legitimate gains we have made in Afghanistan. Sadly, I fear President Obama's decision could embolden our enemy and endanger our troops.

President Obama is correct on one account: it is time for nation-building at home and high time the Afghan people take more responsibility in bringing peace and stability to their own country.

Former Sen. Rick Santorum: President Obama speaks of winding down our engagement in Afghanistan, but he does not emphasize the need for victory. Every American wants our brave men and women home safely, but we cannot let those who've given the last full measure die in vain by abandoning the gains we've made thus far. We must be squarely focused on succeeding in Afghanistan rather than on politically motivated troop withdrawals. Sadly, President Obama doesn't seem to share that commitment.

Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty:
I thought his speech tonight was deeply concerning. Look how he phrased the outcome of this war. He said we need to end the war 'responsibly.' When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully. And what that means now is not nation building. What it means is to follow General Petraeus’ advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down.

This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success, not some vague notions of a responsible wind down and then jumping over what the real mission is now which is stabilizing the security of the country.

Filed under: 2012 • Afghanistan • President Obama
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Stephan Hokanson

    Mr. Romney raises a good point: as a private citizen, he'll get his military information the same way I do: from the media.

    June 22, 2011 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  2. bobbobbobber

    Huntsman comes out with some real talk, Romney demands the blood of the innocent to quench his unholy thirst.

    June 22, 2011 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. Howard


    "Look, it's an all volunteer force," Obama complained. "Nobody made these guys go to war. They had to have known and accepted the risks. Now they whine about bearing the costs of their choice? It doesn't compute.." "I thought these were people who were proud to sacrifice for their country, "Obama continued "I wasn't asking for blood, just money. With the country facing the worst financial crisis in its history, I'd have thought that the patriotic thing to do would be to try to help reduce the nation's deficit.. I guess I underestimated the selfishness of some of my fellow Americans."

    June 22, 2011 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  4. The Truth

    Jon Huntsman just reiterated what President Obama said. However, he attempted to down play the president while addressing the situation while trying to get elected.

    Mitt Romney is trying to appeal to emotional responses of the American people rather than results. Results matter and not emotional appeal. Emotional appeal can gets you votes Mr. Romney, but not the Presidency.
    "This decision should not be based on politics or economics.", quote Romney. I disagree because results count and Mr Obama is making the right decisions.

    June 22, 2011 09:23 pm at 9:23 pm |
  5. Pravaa

    So Mitt thinks Obama just got up one morning and decided on this figure of withdrawal? The commanders were never consulted? Mitt, either read or listen to OBAMA'S WARS by Bob Woodward. Your head spins at the amount of negotiations that go on for each decision.

    June 22, 2011 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  6. Larry L

    These corporate prostitites will launch the swift-boats at every opportunity. President Obama has been more effective a killing our enemies than any of the Bush era. He is a thoughtful and dedicated leader. The GOP has become nothing more than dancing monkies for the evangelical right-wing and the bigoted members of the Tea Party. The few who actually care about all of the American people (not just the rich) have to parade themselves as crazy wingers to get past the primary. The GOP is truly dysfunctional.

    June 22, 2011 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. w l jones

    Why don^t we call our troop in Afghanistan a contention strategy in a vital part of the world and leave it at that. Bless.

    June 22, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  8. Adet

    Herman Cain, you did not know the right of return when it was lobbed to you as a soft ball by Chris Wallace and had to ask him 3 times. I guess you were thinking the right to return a pizza. So quit commenting on Obama's foreign policy.

    June 22, 2011 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  9. Clwyd

    Mostly comments by brainwashed republicans by the Pentagon and our military. They are still all animals to me!

    June 22, 2011 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  10. ATL Guy

    Herman Cain is a joke. Mitt Romney is a tool. They are both Republicans. Therefore, Republicans are jokes and tools.

    June 22, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Just because there is a time table announced doesn't mean that it will be followed closely. As it was pointed out, there were more troops there when Obama entered office then there were while George W(oman) Bush was there showing how important this is to the current president.

    Cain doesn't have enough foreign policy experience to really understand what is going on. This is often times why Senators make better presidents than governors - there is some actual understanding of how to deal with foreign leaders and the background behind them. Cain and Paul are some of those that would have the US shirk the responsiblity we have as a superpower and as a part of NATO. We don't go things alone anymore, but we also need to stay involved.

    June 22, 2011 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  12. Mitt Romney - He Will Say Anything To Get Elected

    Shame the response wasn`t a simple, "I support the President`s decision to bring our soldiers home".

    None of these men have recieved any intelligence briefings that would give them an informed position on the Afghanistan situation. Anything they say has the potential to sub-optimized the military situation. Too bad they don`t have the good sense to know when to say `No Comment`.

    June 22, 2011 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  13. Peter s

    Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman bravo!!! Romney day by day you are becoming arrogant!! someone needs to pluck those horns you are growing there!!. Mr. Cain ! how can you neither understands poetry nor prose! any writtings outside the piiza box are too much for you! just ask Steward!!

    June 22, 2011 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  14. Indy

    Cain needs to go and sell another pizza and not think we are going to fall for his shenanigans.How many times did he deal with pizzas going to war ?

    June 23, 2011 12:34 am at 12:34 am |
  15. Dan from Tx

    flip flop flip flop
    we can't afford it
    we can't not afford it
    you can't tell our enemies a time table
    the American people need a time table!
    flip flop flip flop

    June 23, 2011 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  16. Jeremiah

    I really do think pulling out of a war after just 9 or so years worth of effort is a little hasty and impulsive. Victory could be just another 100 dead in a foreign land away.

    June 23, 2011 03:52 am at 3:52 am |
  17. milton bradley

    Mr cain is right. There should be no middle ground in american foreign policy.

    June 23, 2011 04:25 am at 4:25 am |
  18. Helga

    I would have been much more interested to see what Ron Paul had to say about the speech.

    June 23, 2011 05:24 am at 5:24 am |
  19. luckystargirl

    Haven't republicans learned that being @ war is a) expensive both monetarily as well as in the lives of our people. 9/11 was a senseless act of violence. And thanks to Dubbya we attcked the wrong nation. We should pull out all troops in Iraq, get rid of this american empire we've built through policing the world. Troops in germany & japan since '45,troops in south korea(because officially that war isn't over) troops in iraq and afghanistan, troops in Libya, when will the nonsense end? I won't vote for a republican in 2012 or democrat for that matter unless they are willing to go the extra mile for peace. America can still prove it's the best nation on earth by working relentlessly towards something that no one living in the last century has seen, a century of no war

    June 23, 2011 05:25 am at 5:25 am |
  20. mlovato

    Is it true the war is costing the US 2billion a week and our government is now cutting the troops' benefits? End the war, bring our brave soldiers home, and spend 2billion a week on our nations heros!

    June 23, 2011 05:31 am at 5:31 am |
  21. 4merRepubCT

    Wow, the Repugs find a war they actually dislike??? Combine this with the move to defund action in Libya, and you've got a Democratic revolution in the Republican party. As McConnell pointed out, yes, Republicans have always supported military action as long as there's a Republican in the White House because party loyalty caused them to be afraid to disagree with it. But, now that the President is a Democrat, the Repugs can be finally be honest and admit that they don't really support military action.

    This is beyond pathetic. McConnell is telling us that American lives have been lost because the Repugs put party loyalty ahead of the lives of the men and women that serve. What is wrong with them?

    June 23, 2011 06:18 am at 6:18 am |
  22. johnmenacherjr

    Where in heaven's name do these people get these statements from the back of a box of cereal??? Govern in prose etc?? A bunch of jibirisch but again it all is Obamma's fault. We have 3 republican canditate Bachman, Romney and Huntsmen all that beleive the pope is the Anti-Christ. Bachman in particular is quite open about it. I don't understand with the influence of Catholics in the Republican party why they ould even put up with this??? And yes Obamma did cause the Big bang as well!

    June 23, 2011 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
  23. Philly P

    I've come to understand that no one contending for the job of President will ever give the current President any credit. They always say they would do it different as if Americans can remember what you said 17 months out. You don't know what you would do until you sit behind that desk!

    June 23, 2011 07:04 am at 7:04 am |
  24. dougnnc

    Typical idiotic say anything armchair quarterbacks.

    June 23, 2011 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  25. Concerned Citizen

    I would only hope that President Obama is listening to his military advisors who have boots on the ground and not politicians who tour the large air bases and see nothing of the true sacrifices being made. As a soldier myself I support the chain of command but hope the Commander in Chief has our best interests at heart rather than worrying about securing a second term in office.

    June 23, 2011 07:24 am at 7:24 am |