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GOP2012: Republican debate, January 7th, 2012
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Fact Check

Romney has flip-flopped repeatedly on Afghanistan

November 22, 2011 at

Romney can’t make up his mind on what his strategy would be in Afghanistan.  First, he wouldn’t say what he’d do. Then in January, he said it was his “desire” not to leave Afghanistan.  Five months later, he claimed he wanted the troops to come home as soon as possible.  And on timelines for withdrawal, Romney first criticized the President for having one, but three months later he said he agreed with the President that the troops should be out by 2014. At tonight’s debate, Romney said “we should have a gradual transition of handing off to the Afghan security forces the responsibility for their own country” without identifying a timetable.


Byron York: Romney Seemed “Off Balance” When Asked What Strategy He Would Employ In Afghanistan Saying “I’m Not In That Position.”“Then there’s Afghanistan. ‘I’m a little surprised that, having made Afghanistan the center of his anti-terrorist strategy, he says he doesn’t have a strategy at this stage for what to do in Afghanistan,’ Romney says of the president. ‘I would have expected him to have accomplished that by this point.’ As Romney sees it, Obama has a choice. He can go along with Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s expected request for more troops, or he can betray his own campaign promise of a firm U.S. stand in Afghanistan. ‘I think his only choice, and the correct choice, is the former,’ Romney says. But it might not be that simple. When I ask Romney, ‘What would you have done?’ he seems slightly off-balance. ‘I’m not in that position,’ Romney says. He pauses a moment. ‘When you say, what would I have done, I, I – ‘ ‘Do you think we needed a new strategy in Afghanistan?’ I ask. ‘I’m going to Afghanistan and Iraq in a couple of months,’ Romney says. ‘I’ll get an assessment of what’s happening there and what the prospects are. But I certainly would support our troops with the additional troops which are being called for by General McChrystal, and provide the equipment and the manpower and the budgetary support which our troops deserve.’” [Byron York, Washington Examiner, 9/27/09]


FLIP: Romney: “It Is My Desire And My Political Party’s Desire To Support The People Of Afghanistan And Not To Leave.”“Although the media have not been invited to his events, a glimpse into Romney’s thinking was provided by an individual who attended the meeting between Romney and the young Afghans and who allowed a reporter to view a video of the event. At one point, Romney said he supports a longer-term US presence in Afghanistan and asked Afghans for their own suggestions about how the United States can help overcome the raging insurgency and endemic corruption here. President Obama’s administration has said it plans to begin reducing the number of US troops in July with the goal of handing over security to the Afghans by the end of 2014. ‘It is my desire and my political party’s desire to support the people of Afghanistan and not to leave,’ Romney said in response to a question about whether the United States was going to pull out of the country soon. ‘So we look to you to tell us the best ways that we can support you.’” [Boston Globe, 1/14/11]

FLOP: Romney’s Went Middle Of The Road On President Obama’s Announcement Of Troop Reductions In Afghanistan Saying “We All Want Out Troops To Come Home As Soon As Possible.” “Some of the leading Republican presidential candidates offered dramatically different reactions to President Obama’s announcement of troop reductions in Afghanistan, a reflection of the schism in the Republican Party over the future of the war… Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, is somewhere in the middle. In a statement, Mr. Romney said that ‘we all want our troops to come home as soon as possible,’ but he stopped short of praising Mr. Obama’s speech.” [New York Times, 6/23/11]

  • Romney Said Of Afghanistan: “I Also Think We’ve Learned That Our Troops Shouldn’t Go Off And Try To Fight A War Of Independence For Another Nation.” At the New Hampshire Republican primary debate Romney said of Afghanistan: “I also think we've learned that our troops shouldn't go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan's independence from the Taliban.” [New Hampshire Debate, 6/13/11]


FLIP: Romney Criticized President Obama’s Announcement Of A Troop Withdrawal Timeline In Afghanistan Saying “The Taliban May Not Have Watches, But They Do Have Calendars.” “Romney praised the decision to send additional troops to Afghanistan, but criticized President Obama’s announcement of when troops will withdraw. ‘The Taliban may not have watches, but they do have calendars,’ Romney said.” [Boston Globe, 6/3/11]

FLOP: Romney: “The Generals Actually Concur With The Idea That We Should Bring Down The Surge Troops And Ultimately By 2014, Take Our Footprint - Our Large Combat Footprint Out Of Afghanistan, That’s Something With Which I Concur.” On Moring Joe, Mitt Romney said: “The generals actually concur with the idea that we should bring down the surge troops, and ultimately by 2014, take our footprint -- our large combat footprint out of Afghanistan, that's something with which I concur.” [Morning Joe, MSNBC, 9/28/11]

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