In a speech today to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty took a hawkish view on foreign policy, drawing contrasts with President Obama and some of his GOP rivals.
His primary target was Obama, whom he called "timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests."
The former Minnesota governor also knocked the president on the subject of Israel. "It breaks my heart that President Obama treats Israel, our great friend, as a problem rather than as an ally,” Pawlenty said.
Both in his prepared remarks -- read on teleprompter -- and in the Q&A following, Pawlenty tried to separate himself from fellow Republicans. "Parts of the Republican Party now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments. This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party. The stakes are simply too high, and the opportunity is simply too great."
Pawlenty gave his speech at a time when GOP foreign-policy views seem to be splitting. While not mentioning any of his rivals by name, Pawlenty took a swipe at those have been hesitant about continuing the U.S. military role in Afghanistan. "What is wrong is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world," he said. "History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we'll save in a budget line item."
"America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal," he said. "It does not need a second one."
“It is not wrong for Republicans to debate the timing of our military drawdown in Afghanistan,” Pawlenty also stated, adding: "though my belief is that Gen. Petreaus’ voice ought to carry the most weight on that question."