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GOP2012: Republican debate, October 11th, 2011
The Reality
Fact Check

Romney has Repeatedly Flip-Flopped on Foreign Policy Positions

January 07, 2012 at 9:44 p.m. ET


FLIP: 2007: Romney: “It’s Not Worth Moving Heaven And Earth And Spending Billions Of Dollars Just Trying To Catch One Person.” Romney said he doubts whether the capture of Osama bin Laden would substantially impact American security. Romney said, "It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." He argued that the country would be safer by only "a small percentage" and would see "a very insignificant increase in safety." Rather that targeting bin Laden, he said he supports a broader strategy to defeat the global Islamic jihad movement. [Associated Press, 4/27/07]

FLIP: Romney On Taking Action Against Terrorists In Pakistan: “You Can Be Sure We Would Take Necessary Action” But Wouldn’t Talk About It. Romney said, “You can be sure we would take necessary action to get Osama bin Laden, but I would certainly not say something which would tend to incite people in Pakistan against the leadership that country. You can anticipate that we have a close relationship with General Musharraf and that that relationship would continue. But we don’t talk about taking unilateral action and bombing people who are our allies and our friends.” [Fox News, 8/17/07]

FLIP: Romney On Taking Action Against Terrorists In Pakistan: “I Do Not Concur In The Words Of Barack Obama To Enter An Ally Of Ours.”  Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney criticized Democrat Barack Obama on Friday for vowing to strike al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary as the Obama camp issued a strident defense of his plan. What had been an internecine foreign policy battle between rival Democrats Obama, an Illinois senator, and New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, spilled into the Republican arena in the heavily contested state of Iowa. ‘I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort,’ Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. Obama on Wednesday said if elected president in November 2008 he would be willing to launch military strikes against al Qaeda targets inside Pakistan with or without the approval of the Pakistani government of President Pervez Musharraf. ‘If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will,’ Obama said.”  [Reuters, 8/4/07]

FLOP: 2011: Romney Said That “Any President” Would Have Given The Order To Take Out Osama Bin Laden.” Romney: “With regards to Osama bin Laden, we're delighted that he gave the order to take out Osama bin Laden, any president would have done that. But this one did and that's a good thing.” [Fox News Sunday, 12/18/11] 


FLIP: Romney Attacked Obama For Calling For The Removal Of Qaddafi Saying “Who’s Going To Own Libya If We Get Rid Of The Government There?” “During remarks in New Hampshire in last month, Mitt Romney accused President Obama of ‘mission muddle’ for expanding United States operations in Libya beyond enforcing a no-fly zone to a wider goal of preventing Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from attacking his own people. ‘Now the president is saying we have to remove Qaddafi,’ Mr. Romney said at the time, adding, ‘Who’s going to own Libya if we get rid of the government there?’” [New York Times, 8/22/11]

FLOP: Romney Said “The World Celebrates The Removal Of Qaddafi.” “But on Monday evening, as the rebels surged through Tripoli, Mr. Romney told Neil Cavuto of Fox Business Network that ‘the world celebrates the idea of getting rid of Qaddafi.’ And instead of assessing Mr. Obama’s actions, he called on a new Libyan government to extradite the man convicted in the 1988 Lockerbie bombing.” [New York Times, 8/22/11]


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]


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 On Iraq Plan: I Would Not Presume To Do It Differently From Bush. O’REILLY: Now, on the same poll it gave Bush’s 44 percent approval said that more than 60 percent of Americans think he is screwing up Iraq and has no plan. Do you have a plan in Iraq? ROMNEY: Well, I wouldn’t presume to present a plan different than that of the president. But I can tell you that I believe he was right to take the war on terror on an aggressive front rather than a defensive front.” [O’Reilly Factor, FNC, 9/27/06]

FLOP: Romney: The Iraq War After Hussein Was Captured Was “Undermanaged, Underprepared, Underplanned, Understaffed.” Romney said, “It was the right decision to go into Iraq. I supported it at the time; I support it now. It was not well managed in the -- after the takedown of Saddam Hussein and his military. That was done brilliantly, an extraordinary success. But in the years that followed, it was not well -- we were undermanaged, underprepared, underplanned, understaffed, and then we come into the phase that we have now.” [GOP Debate, 1/24/08]

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