“Both former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had more hawkish reactions to Obama's speech,” The Hill writes. “Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, a Republican running for president who served as Obama's ambassador to China, by contrast chided Obama for moving too slowly, joining with the likes of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), the libertarian-minded presidential candidate who's long called for the withdrawal of U.S. troops.”
Romney’s position, in particular, on the war is muddled, especially after saying at a debate last week that the United States shouldn’t be fighting wars of “independence.”
The New York Times: “As the nation has grown weary over the cost and toll of war, fault lines have emerged among Republicans, with the longstanding isolationist strain regaining its footing after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and the adventurism of the George W. Bush era.”
CAIN: Herman Cain said Obama offered “foggy foreign policy” in his rebuke of both isolationists and hawks, though he did end his statement on a praiseworthy note: saying the president was “correct” in calling for nation-building at home and for the Afghan people to take more responsibility for their country.
GINGRICH: Issuing a statement almost three hours after the president’s address, Gingrich connected the war in Afghanistan to other conflicts in the Arab world, specifically Libya, and criticized Obama for not linking Afghanistan to “a larger strategy for winning the war against radical Islamists.”
Gingrich spoke at the Atlanta Press Club yesterday where he said his campaign staff quit en masse because he is “very different” from mainstream politicians, Reuters writes. “‘Philosophically, I am very different from normal politicians, and normal consultants found that very hard to deal with,” Gingrich said.
HUNTSMAN: “Republican White House hopeful Jon Huntsman has found a way to explain his embrace of cap-and-trade when he was governor of Utah: Everyone was doing it,” The Hill writes. Huntsman said on FOX: “Every governor was talking about dealing with emissions back many, many years ago only to find that with the economic implosion, we can't afford anything that is going to put any kind of hamper on economic growth. So cap-and-trade is not something that is viable today. Everybody talked about it. At least a lot of people did, consulting with CEOs, consulting with all the experts. Everyone took it seriously.”
Huntsman put out a statement on the president’s speech before it happened, calling for an even wider troop pullout than Obama proposed. “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.”
While he does not plan on participating in the Ames Straw poll, Jon Huntsman told Politico that he would attend the Fox News-sponsored debate in Iowa in August. He met with potential Republican donors in South Carolina last night, CNN reports. And he will open his campaign headquarters in Florida today, cutting a ceremonial ribbon for his Orlando offices after meeting with business leaders in Miami, the AP writes.
The conservative anti-tax group Club for Growth went after Huntsman yesterday, releasing a “presidential white paper” that praised his tax policies but criticized his record on spending and having once considered an individual mandate for health-care coverage, the Washington Post writes.
PAWLENTY: Pawlenty was at the hawkish end of the candidates’ spectrum of responses, criticizing the president’s statement that the United States needs to end the war “responsibly.” Appearing on Fox News’ O’Reilly Factor, Pawlenty said, “When America goes to war, America needs to win.”
A handful of Pawlenty’s top advisers have been working for little or no pay for several months, the Washington Post reports. While some on the staff are temporarily forgoing a bigger salary, Pawlenty aides insist that other consultants signed up with the understanding that they were working pro bono for the long term. “We’re raising exactly what we said we were going to raise. We’re paying our consultants exactly what they expected to be paid right now,” an aide said.
PERRY: Joshua Green writes, “It’s a measure of how unenthusiastic Republicans are about their presidential choices that Texas Governor Rick Perry has become their latest infatuation. … Politicians love getting the Perry treatment, and there’s a good chance that Perry won’t be the last one to get it. … Call it the ‘Heck, why not?’ primary.”
ROMNEY: Mitt Romney “is somewhere in the middle” in terms of the hawkishness of reactions to the Afghanistan announcement, the New York Times writes. “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.”
A new Bloomberg Poll shows Romney with a 59% favorable rating among Republicans.
SANTORUM: Santorum criticized Romney and Huntsman for having “holes in their record” that prevent them from performing well in the Iowa caucus, The Hill writes.