Senate GOP leaders not criticizing president's Afghanistan trip
May 1st, 2012
06:11 PM ET
11 years ago

Senate GOP leaders not criticizing president's Afghanistan trip

(CNN) - Senate Republican leaders don't plan any formal reaction – or criticism – of President Barack Obama's surprise trip to Afghanistan, according to a top Senate GOP leadership aide.

The aide said the president announced the troop drawdown almost a year ago, and there is little new to say.

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"We obviously don't have any beef with the president visiting the troops," the aide said.

The sentiment was echoed by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, who told CNN's Dana Bash that "it's always good when the president goes to where young men and women are in harms way."

McCain also said Republicans are supportive of the Strategic Partnership Agreement Obama signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, although they have not been briefed on all the details of it.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also had praise for the president over the trip, especially over the agreement, which he called in a statement "an insurance policy against the reemergence of Taliban and al-Qaeda."

With the partnership, Graham added, "we have reached a turning point in the Afghan war. With proper implementation, this agreement will be the end of the Taliban's dream of retaking Afghanistan."

However, Sen. James Inhofe, a Republican member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, did criticize Obama's decision to travel to Afghanistan.

"Clearly this trip is campaign related," said the Oklahoma senator in a press release.

Inhofe said the trip was "an attempt to shore up his national security credentials because he has spent the past three years gutting our military."

The senator accused Obama of allowing "Washington and campaign politics to dictate his strategy in Afghanistan rather than actual conditions on the ground."

Obama's trip comes one year after the successful mission to kill Osama bin Laden and the same week as the president's re-election campaign released a television ad that questioned whether Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney would have approved the mission if he were president.

Also critical of Obama, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon said the visit to Afghanistan, the president's first trip to the war zone since December 2010, was long overdue.

In a phone interview with CNN's Deirdre Walsh, McKeon pointed to what he called recent "setbacks," referring to controversies involving soldiers urinating on corpses and a U.S. soldier allegedly killing 16 Afghans.

"Some bad things happened, and when bad things happen and that's the only thing people hear, they want to cut and run. The mission is too important for that," McKeon said. "The president could really bring the American people up what happening on the good side of the mission, and instead they just hear the bad stuff."

McKeon, who was briefed Tuesday afternoon by Deputy Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, also offered criticism of the agreement, countering the reactions from some of his fellow Republicans in Congress.

"There's nothing new in the agreement. It just basically says we're going to have an ongoing relationship; we're not going to have any permanent bases. We'll work together as partners and the troops – fighting troops – will be out in 2014."

Asked if the trip was campaign related, McKeon said, "Look, I think the president has been in campaign mode since Labor Day."

But he added, "All presidents campaign, so I'm not going to fault him on that."

On the timing of the trip, Carter told McKeon that Afghan President Hamid Karzai told the U.S. he wanted to sign the agreement before the NATO meeting in Chicago.

"I don't know why we have to kowtow to Karzai, but it is what it is," McKeon said.

- CNN's Deirdre Walsh and Dana Bash contributed to this report.

Also see:

Romney might convince me, Christie says

Obama calls out 'previous statements' about bin Laden

McDonnell's Va. ads are about his state, not himself, spokesman says

Filed under: Afghanistan • Congress • Jim Inhofe • John McCain • President Obama • Senate
soundoff (26 Responses)
  1. scottye

    I am surprised!

    May 1, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  2. Bootstomper

    Inhofe is a complete idiot. Wait actually most of the republicans in the senate are idiots except for Lugar,Snowe, Collins, yea that just about does it.

    May 1, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  3. B

    Sen. McCain agreeing with President Obama, hell has frozen over.

    May 1, 2012 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  4. Patriot Awesome

    The Republicans have lost all credibility. Their economic and foreign policies are proven failures and they have no ideas or problem solving skills. They're great at criticizing though, I'll give them that.

    May 1, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  5. Newmoon2

    Good move, Republicans. It's always been considered bad form to take a swing at the President when he's overseas, particularly when he's in a war zone.

    May 1, 2012 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  6. Dave

    Mr. Inhofe you need to keep in touch with your party. They have now realized that they can't critiicize everything the president does, it just looks bad. Keep up James.

    May 1, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  7. Sniffit

    Smartest thing the GOP Senators have done in a long LONG time: KEEP THEIR MOUTHS SHUT.

    Beaker must be just boiling over with the need to "meeeeeeeeeep!!!!!" his way all over the Capitol Bldg.

    May 1, 2012 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  8. Jake in Omaha

    Republicans are trying to come up with the right spin. I am sure Romney will come up with the cost of the visit or something. Remember Republicans serve only the 1%.

    May 1, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. lilcbj215

    Wow!, Republicans are not complaining about the President's trip to Afghanistan....Oh wait! Oh, there is one complaint. False Alarm.

    May 1, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  10. Bill

    Let's see if those GOP reprobates can keep their mouths shut when 250,000 new jobs are announced at the end of the week.

    May 1, 2012 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  11. rob

    What does CNN expect them to say. Commander and Chief visiting the troops is good policy. What is low class and beneath the dignity of a POTUS is how he and his campaign have so blatantly politicized the aniversary of OBL's death.

    May 1, 2012 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  12. Sam P

    One good NO from the G-NO-P, although Sen Inhofe had to criticize the Commander in Chief for visiting the troops. What a hypocrit!

    May 1, 2012 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  13. aaron

    It would be hard for them to criticize the president's trip after a boatload of GOP congressman just went there and spent millions in taxpayer dollars. But, then again, the last thing that Repubs and Fox News are adverse to is hypocrisy. They've turned hypocrisy into an art form.

    May 1, 2012 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  14. mcskadittle

    i love it, only a republican can call a bring the troops home from Iraq, gutting the military

    May 1, 2012 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  15. Angy

    I'm not surprise. What would you expect them to say? OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    May 1, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  16. Katherine

    Wow, great to know they approve something!

    May 1, 2012 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  17. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Republicans are wising up, except maybe in Oklahoma!

    May 1, 2012 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  18. Howard

    AFGHANISTAN IS JUST ANOTHER CAMPAIGN STOP FOR OBAMA ... and, since neither Obama, or Karzai can be trusted, this so called last minute victory, after running America into the ground for the past 3 1/2 years, will probably fall apart, right after the November election.

    May 1, 2012 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  19. n

    Republican are just cry babies if Mr bush had taken this trip they would have complemended him all day long. But Democrats took it so they have to go after him. Shame on you Republicans I hope Americans wake up and kick all you no good Republicans out of office

    May 1, 2012 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  20. Larry L

    Wise... They need to avoid talking about the area of foreign policy and the war effort(s). Like the economy, Republicans got us in to this mess and the President is quite effectively solving the problems. Republicans don't want voters to think about these issues...

    May 1, 2012 09:03 pm at 9:03 pm |
  21. Pete

    Republicans better not be critizing the president for seeing the troops in Afghanistan.That's his right and we're proud he's doing it,thank you sir,we're glad your visiting our men and women,Gods speed,safe trip...

    May 1, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  22. Conrack

    The GOP "leaders" in the Senate have no standing to criticize anything or anybody after spending the last four years carrying out their sworn plan to unseat the President rather than attend to the vital business of the nation. Any normal person would be ashamed to act so selfishly, but these people have no shame. Show them the door, America.

    May 1, 2012 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  23. clare

    Our president is a man with 12 years of the bush family mess to clean up. you forget he has been in office only 3 years, and has accomplished many things that has helped the middle class & the poor. now, he went to settle our differences with a potential hot bed country, and the republicsans still have nothing good to say. my fellow americans, this is all you can expect if you vote republican.

    May 1, 2012 11:25 pm at 11:25 pm |
  24. julien vergara

    This are politics

    May 1, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  25. J.V.Hodgson

    No they may not be doing that, too difficult and unreasonable, and they will allow a couple of house reps or Senators to say its campainging for the blog time.... media reporting.
    They leave the door wide open to use thier previous opposition of anything Obama announced as policy in the past never mind this latest agreement ... ( they will fault it all over the place) and say it was never necessary at this time as we should not be withdrawing in 2014.
    I am happy to run a book on wheyther Republicans a criticise the agreement the President signed today with Afghanistan and Karzai and will increase criticism of the 2014 withdrawal.
    Let me know who wants to bet against me on the above. Any one who does has more money than sense, or more correctly is a die hard Republican. For the record I'm an independent.

    May 2, 2012 03:54 am at 3:54 am |
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