GOP candidates criticize Obama Iraq decision
October 21st, 2011
03:06 PM ET
11 years ago

GOP candidates criticize Obama Iraq decision

(CNN) - Some of the Republican presidential candidates were sharply critical Friday of President Barack Obama for his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year. Read their statements below.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney:

"President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq."

(See Obama 2012 response at the bottom of this post, following candidate statements.)

Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota:

"Today's announcement that we will remove all of our forces from Iraq is a political decision and not a military one; it represents the complete failure of President Obama to secure an agreement with Iraq for our troops to remain there to preserve the peace and demonstrates how far our foreign policy leadership has fallen. In every case where the United States has liberated a people from dictatorial rule, we have kept troops in that country to ensure a peaceful transition and to protect fragile growing democracies. We will now have fewer troops in Iraq than we have in Honduras – despite a costly and protracted war."

"President Obama's decision represents the end of the era of America's influence in Iraq and the strengthening of Iran's influence in Iraq with no plan to counter that influence. We have been ejected from a country by the people that we liberated and that the United States paid for with precious blood and treasure. The administration claims that we got exactly what we needed, but today's announcement demonstrates otherwise. The United States needed a working democratic partnership in Iraq and we should have demanded that Iraq repay the full cost of liberating them given their rich oil revenues. I call on the president to return to the negotiating table with Iraq and lead from the front and not from weakness in Iraq and in the world."

Former Godfather's Pizza CEO Herman Cain

"Whether or not it’s the right thing to do, I would consult with the commanders. The thing I wouldn't do that the president is doing is telling the enemy how many troops you're going to bring out and when you are going to bring them out. I don't think that's a good strategy."

Former Utah Gov. and U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman

"On the occasion of the announcement that U.S. forces will withdraw completely from Iraq by the end of the year, we should take a moment to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our brave men and women in uniform. We are forever grateful for their service to America, and are eager to welcome our troops home.

"President Obama’s decision, however, to not leave a small, focused presence in Iraq is a mistake and the product of his administration’s failures. The president's inability to reach a security agreement leaves Iraq vulnerable to backsliding, thus putting our interests in the region at risk. An ideal arrangement would have left a small troop presence that could have assisted with the training of Iraqi security forces and vital counter-terror efforts."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry

“I'm deeply concerned that President Obama is putting political expediency ahead of sound military and security judgment by announcing an end to troop level negotiations and a withdrawal from Iraq by year's end. The President was slow to engage the Iraqis and there's little evidence today's decision is based on advice from military commanders.

"America's commitment to the future of Iraq is important to U.S. national security interests and should not be influenced by politics. Despite the great achievements of the U.S. military and the Iraqi people, there remain real threats to our shared interests, especially from Iran.

“The United States must remain a firm and steadfast ally for Iraq, maintaining an ongoing diplomatic, economic, and military to military partnership with this emerging democratic ally in the Middle East.

“As a veteran and commander-in-chief of national guard forces, I cannot express enough appreciation for our military service members who have protected and defended American interests in Iraq. Our Iraq war veterans made enormous sacrifices to make our nation and world safer, and I know all Americans will welcome them home with great pride and appreciation.”

Obama 2012 Campaign Reaction to Romney criticism

"The President kept his pledge to the nation to end the war in Iraq in a responsible way, he has promoted our security in Afghanistan and eliminated key Al Qaeda leaders while strengthening American leadership around the world. Mitt Romney didn't lay out a plan to end the war in Iraq in his foreign policy agenda – he barely even mentioned Iraq – but he is apparently willing to leave American troops there without identifying a new mission. Mitt Romney's foreign policy experience is limited to his work as a finance executive shipping American jobs overseas."
–Press Secretary Ben LaBolt

Filed under: 2012 • Iraq • Michele Bachmann • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (140 Responses)
  1. Bessy

    Thank you Mr. President and " Go To Hell " Republicans. It is way past time that they are coming home. They should never have been there in the 1st place. They only were sent there due to lies by George W. Bush, Cheney and others in their administration. Can't wait until they are here.

    October 21, 2011 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  2. j green

    Leave our troops in Iraq, subject them to the political whims of that government. They won't grant immunity to our troops so we are coming home. Imagine our brave young men and women being prosecuted in that country. Thank you President Obama.

    October 21, 2011 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  3. john weatherly

    Maybe they could try the WMD thing worked the first time. Cheney and Bush showed that if you lie REALLY BIG and repeat it enough, it will be regarded as truth. As for me, we should never have been in Iraq at all, so the sooner we're gone, the better. We can use our young folks back home where they belong (REAL family values) and our economy can have a better chance if we are not wasting treasure abroad.

    October 21, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  4. ted

    I am sick and tired of the Repuklicans. They are just war hawks. remember McCAin said in 2008 that he would have troops in Iraq for 100 years. Will they ever realize that part of our deficit spending is because of the off the books war appropriations of George W Bush who invaded a sovereign country based on lies and got 5000 patriots killed and tens of thousands of patriots maimed for life and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed? What is wrong with the Repulitards? Bush and Rummie never had a plan for what to do after they bombed the hell out of Baghad? It was a very low point in world history courtesty DICK Cheney and Bushtard. And the REpubthug candidiates are just a bunch of whiny idiots. I am sick and tired of them

    October 21, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  5. Hans Broesicke

    It's about time. Truth is, there never was going to be a "clean exit" from this debacle. It'll just be nice to turn the page on this. I'm sure the troops over there agree and will be happy to come home.

    October 21, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    If Obama walked on water, you'd get one of two responses from any given GOPer/Teatroll:

    "What, he can't fly?"


    "See...I told you 'they' can' swim."

    October 21, 2011 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  7. Kerry

    Michele Bachmann is not to be taken seriously in any event, regarldless of what comes out of her pie hole.

    October 21, 2011 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  8. Brandy

    What is wrong with Romney, Bachmann and other GOP putting the President down for bringing home the troops. No matter what the President would do, its wrong. Why would any president leave troops in any country without granting immunity? If this is any indication of how they would act as President, I surely don't want them.

    October 21, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Noodle Nose Johnson

    Don't worry about Mitt. As soon as the polls indicate Obama's decision has polled positively, he'll just flip flop and say he was for it all along.

    Sniffit nailed it with the first comment.

    October 21, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. once upon a horse

    you have to be freaking kiddong me. President Obama says our men and women will be home with their famlies this for the holidays and some in the GOP go BOO-HISS!!!! And they say OBAMA doesn't love this country, is not patriotic, was not born here, HATES the military you know the right wing talking points. ANd they are willing to keep our men and women over in harm's way just to go against a president that they don't like. What have we come to USA? 🙁

    October 21, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. livingston

    My God! He's doing what he said he was going to do! I'm sure that the entire concept is foreign to most Republicans. Like mk1, I also have a child over there and when they say they will no longer grant immunity to our troops then it's time to bring them home. They want to take over their OWN country and we want to end the war and get our troops back home. I thought that was the whole reason for being over there! Or are they afraid that ending the war will cut into the profits that their friends are making on it?

    October 21, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. carly

    what a moron.

    October 21, 2011 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Jack - Texas

    All these Repubs will ever do is put down anything connected to the President. If you read their lips they never make mistakes and all are perfect. And you have 3 that says God told them to run. I would like an investigation into that. When, where, how and why did God talk to them. Why are they choosen for God to talk. I never heard Reagan, John Kennedy, Abe, Washington ever mention they talked to God. Only Jim Jones, Manson, and a few other religious idiots. I doubt if God talking to self-serving, huge ego people who only desire the spotlight with promises they could not fulfill even if they were elected. Shame on me for even recognizing these as people.

    October 21, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  14. dan in Alquerque

    So, I guess the GOP wants our soldiers to stay there and be subject to criminal charges for whatever some Iraq extremist politicians want to say they are guilty of, and let them face penalties from a foreign country, including death? That is exactly why Obama and our military refused to keep any troops there except for the standard embassy guards and 150 to supervise American weapons sales. Funny how the GOP has learned from Faux News how to leave out critical facts to make Obama sound bad, which is their only goal.

    October 21, 2011 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  15. Woman In California

    As predicted.....

    These has got to be the most un American group of trash, I have EVER seen and I have lived through at least 10 presidents. Nothing to offer just insults, prejudice and envy. Why can't they just for once (be decent) and say job well done?

    October 21, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  16. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Bring our troops home and send all the GOP thugs and their families to replace them after all we do have a volunteer military.

    October 21, 2011 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  17. billy

    A decade of transition isn't enough?

    Feel free to enlist and go fight over there yourself, Mit.

    October 21, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  18. really???

    They just keep on proving that they are not equipped mentally to be considered for POTUS, not sure if they should be involved in government at all. In order to govern over someones life you have to be able to control yourself...mouths included. It's "think then speak".

    October 21, 2011 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |


    October 21, 2011 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  20. Independent For President Obama

    Let the Repubs send their loved ones to die and we won't have any wars.

    October 21, 2011 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. El Kababa

    So the Conservative position is that Obama is pulling troops our of Iraq too fast and too soon AND that he should have pulled the troops out much sooner AND that Obama is disrespectful of the victory which was won by American troops who removed all of those WMDs which were not found. Also, Obama was cruel to poor Ghadafi, who deserved due process and government provided medical care.

    October 21, 2011 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

    Guess 9 years of war wasn't long enough for the hopefuls. Go figure.

    October 21, 2011 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  23. FactCheck

    Maybe after Mittens failed 2012 bid, he can launch an exploratory committee to start looking for those darn WMDs.

    October 21, 2011 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  24. John

    That all you republican do Is Complain and LIE. America should have been In Iraq In the First Place, We where there on a LIE told by Republican to get American People to back and say It was OK. And now you are Complain about President Obama taking troops out of some were they shouldn't have been In the first place. All I heard from you Republican that the spending has to stop ,but you Republican want to keep these wars going and spending all that money that don't need to be spend. Not counting the America Live this will save. Every day you Republican just show the American People what bigot you are and how big of clowns you are.

    October 21, 2011 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  25. chill

    If it wasn't for Obama, these people wouldn't know what they think! The alternative was letting our troops there subject to full Iraqi law with no immunity. No Commander-in-Chief would ever do that, nor should he or she. Unless Mitt and Michelle want to re-invade against the wishes of Iraq's sovereign government.

    October 21, 2011 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
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