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GOP Candidates Weigh in on Libya

Monday, 22 Aug 2011 07:40 PM

Republicans vying to challenge Barack Obama in next year's election responded to developments in Libya with caution Monday. They want to support democracy but don't want to endorse Obama's policy, which many opposed.

With the situation in Libya so fluid, it was too early to say whether Obama will be able to chalk up U.S. involvement in the NATO air campaign there as a political victory.

Here are some of the Republican candidate's statements about Libya, before and after Libyan rebels entered Tripoli over the weekend:


Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney accused Obama in March of being "weak" on Libya because he worked with the Arab League and United Nations, and warned of "mission creep" in the North African state.

On Monday, Romney released a statement focused on Libya's new leaders and calling on them to arrest and extradite Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, who was convicted of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Scotland in 1988.

"It is my hope that Libya will now move toward a representative form of government that supports freedom, human rights, and the rule of law," Romney said.


Texas Governor Rick Perry, who has attacked Obama's foreign policy in general but not specifically addressed Libya, said the end of Muammar Gaddafi's reign is cause for "cautious celebration."

He said, "The lasting impact of events in Libya will depend on ensuring rebel factions form a unified, civil government that guarantees personal freedoms, and builds a new relationship with the West where we are allies instead of adversaries."


Michele Bachmann, a U.S. congresswoman from Minnesota, opposed the Libyan intervention by NATO.

During a debate in June, Bachmann questioned the wisdom of supporting the rebels when the United States was not sure who they were. "There are some reports that they may contain Al Qaeda of North Africa. What possible vital American interests could we have to empower Al Qaeda of North Africa and Libya?" she said.

"I opposed U.S. military involvement in Libya and I am hopeful that our intervention there is about to end. I also hope the progress of events in Libya will ultimately lead to a government that honors the rule of law, respects the people of Libya and their yearning for freedom, and one that will be a good partner to the United States and the international community," Bachmann said in a statement.


Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman had been one of the sharpest critics of Obama's policy in Libya, despite having served as Obama's ambassador to China. He had said he would not have intervened in Libya because it was not a U.S. national security priority and was too expensive while the U.S. economy was struggling.

On Monday, he released a statement expressing optimism, saying, "Gaddafi has been a longtime opponent of freedom, and I am hopeful -- as the whole world should be -- that his defeat is a step toward openness, democracy and human rights for a people who greatly deserve it," Huntsman said.


Rick Santorum, a former senator from Pennsylvania, used his statement on Monday to criticize Obama. "Ridding the world of the likes of Gaddafi is a good thing, but this indecisive president had little to do with this triumph," Santorum said.

© 2015 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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