Lindsey Graham: Romney Sounds Like Jimmy Carter on Afghanistan

Wednesday, 15 Jun 2011 02:51 PM

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Sen. Lindsey Graham stepped up his criticism of the Republican presidential field’s ambivalence about the war in Afghanistan, accusing front-runner Mitt Romney of promoting a weakness in U.S. military policy worthy of President Jimmy Carter, The Hill reports. The South Carolina Republican also challenged Romney’s description of the Afghanistan conflict as a “war of independence.”

Romney was not alone in calling for a policy review. Nearly all the participants at the GOP presidential debate in New Hampshire Monday said the United States must reconsider full-scale military involvement in the Middle East.

Lindsey Graham, Mitt Romney, GOP, president
Sen. Lindsey Graham: "the biggest disaster would be to let Barack Obama become Ronald Reagan and our people become Jimmy Carter." (Getty Images Photo)
But Graham, who supported Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for president over Romney in 2008, singled out the former Massachusetts governor on Tuesday and said he is endangering the Republicans’ traditional edge with voters on national security issues.

“From the party’s point of view, the biggest disaster would be to let Barack Obama become Ronald Reagan and our people become Jimmy Carter,” Graham said.

Republicans have long held up Carter as a symbol of Democratic failure because of his ineffectual handling of the Iran hostage crisis. Graham’s remarks may signal a brewing fight within the GOP over national defense.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., echoed Graham’s criticisms and said Romney is “trying the old big-tent routine” by appealing to isolationist voters.

McCain, for his part, declined to enter the fray with a critique of the debate.

But in calling for an exit from Afghanistan, subject to conditions on the ground, Romney could be courting disagreement with the military’s top brass. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Gen. James Amos, commandant of the Marine Corps, said the successes that troops achieved in some of the most violent parts of Iraq, such as the former insurgent stronghold of Anbar Province, must be duplicated in Afghanistan before the U.S. military withdraws.

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