Count presidential candidates Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney among the Republicans voicing outrage at Vice President Joe Biden’s claim that “the Taliban is not our enemy.”
Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania, tweeted: “Biden says ‘the Taliban isn’t our enemy?’ I always find out what Biden thinks on FP issues and take the opposite position.”
Former Massachusetts Gov. Romney castigated Biden’s comment as “an outrageous affront to our troops carrying out the fight in Afghanistan."
"The Taliban harbored the terrorists who killed 3,000 Americans on Sept 11. The Taliban continues to wage war against us and our allies, a conflict in which we have lost over 1,800 troops," Romney said. "The Taliban receives arms and training from Iran And the Taliban seeks to reinstate a tyrannical government that violently rejects basic notions of human rights and oppresses minorities. The Taliban is clearly a bitter enemy of the United States."
Biden’s remark came amid reports that U.S. officials are carrying on secret negotiations with the militant group. He made the comment during an interview published in Newsweek magazine this week, saying, “Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy because it threatens U.S. interests.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that the vice president’s comment is “only regrettable when taken out of context.”
“We went into Afghanistan because al-Qaida had launched an attack against the United States from Afghanistan," Carney told reporters.
"And what the vice president was reflecting is that — and this is related to the reconciliation process . . . is that the Taliban per se, while we are fighting them, it is not the elimination, the elimination of the Taliban is not the issue here,” he said.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., told Fox News the vice president’s remark was an “insult to the men and women who are serving today.”
“Also, what about the families of those who have been killed by the IEDs that Taliban have manufactured, the same Taliban that sheltered (Osama) bin Laden and was responsible for 9/11,” McCain said. What about all that? It’s just disgraceful.”
Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said Biden’s remark reflects the administration’s true position.
“I don’t think this is a gaffe by Joe Biden — I think he is articulating what the White House strategy is — I think they know exactly what they are trying to do,” Bolton told Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
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