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Romney Clarifies His Afghanistan Answer

11:47 AM, Jun 14, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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An adviser to presidential candidate Mitt Romney tells the Washington Post's Jen Rubin:

Eric Fehrnstrom, a senior adviser on Romney’s campaign, told me this morning: “Governor Romney supported the entry into Afghanistan and the surge to prevent the country from being a launching pad for terror. What he wants to see now is Afghan leadership step up in a way that’s been missing. They need to show the passion for liberty that is essential for independence.”

This clarification from the former Massachusetts governor is in response to his confusing answer on Afghanistan at last GOP night's debate.

"It’s time for us to bring our troops home as soon as we possibly can, consistent with the word that comes to our generals that we can hand the country over to the Taliban military in a way that they’re able to defend themselves," Romney said last night in response to a question. "Excuse me, the Afghan military to defend themselves from the Taliban. That’s an important distinction."

I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals.

But 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.

Rubin goes on to write:

Frankly, one key element that distinguishes Romney as well as Tim Pawlenty from the rest of the GOP presidential-contender crowd is their mature stance on national security and their refusal to fall captive to a distinct isolationist streak that was very much in evidence in the questions from the audience last night. The Republican who makes the case that the U.S. has a vital role to play in the world will be the candidate most capable of launching a successful indictment of President Obama’s many foreign policy stumbles. Who’s going to make the case against Russian reset? Provide a morally and strategically coherent alternative to Obama’s Middle East policy? That person will be the one who, I would argue, stands above the crowd and appears more than equal to Obama as a commander in chief when he or she has to take the stage in debates next fall.

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