Sunday, January 27, 2008

He Said / He Said

A point by point examination of what McCain said about Romney's comments on Iraq and timetables and what Romney actually said:

McCain: “Last April, Governor Romney said he supported ‘timetables’ for withdrawing our troops from Iraq and keeping them secret."

Romney responding to this question, "Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?": "Well, there's no question but that -- the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement."

I'd say: Accurate.


McCain: "Governor Romney also said that there wouldn’t be any real difference on Iraq policy between the Republican nominee and Senator Clinton during the general election."

Romney: "Come the fall of '08, for all of Hillary's rhetoric, she's not going to be demanding a dramatically different course in Iraq than the Republican nominee will."

I'd say: Misleading.


McCain: "I understand if Governor Romney has changed his mind given the obvious success of the surge. But the fact is, like on so many other issues, Governor Romney has hedged, equivocated, ducked, and reversed himself."

Romney initially on the surge: "I'm not going to weigh in. I'm still a governor. I'm not running for national office at this stage. I'm not going to weigh in on specific tactics about whether we should go from 140,000 to 170,000. That's something I expect the President to decide over the next couple of weeks and announce that to the nation. I want to hear what he has to say."

Romney later on the surge: "I don't give that a high probability, I give it a reasonable probability."

I'd say: Accurate.


McCain: "The only people who are owed an apology are the men and women fighting for our country in Iraq, who have a right to expect their leaders to stand by them and their mission not just when it is easy, but when it matters most — when it is hard."

I'd say: Matter of opinion.


McCain's claims were for the most part accurate, but obviously misleading on the claim that Romney's plan didn't differ from Hillary's or the Democrats... he took that statement out of context. On the other issues it was pretty fair and/or matters of opinion.

Romney should respond that the timetables he suggested would have been greatly different than those proposed by Democrats that did not keep them secret nor did they necessarily rely on milestones. Instead he's arguing that he never supported a specific date... something McCain didn't suggest. It just makes Romney look like he can't address the initial claim to me or wants to avoid it. Romney did the same thing when Huckabee brought up the timetable issue in the debates. He denied it, but only in as much as it didn't involve a specific date for withdrawal.

He has never denied, because he can't, that he supported timetables. He always addresses a strawman issue of whether it was public/secret or a specific date(s) were involved.


References:

Full text of McCain's comments:

“Last April, Governor Romney said he supported ‘timetables’ for withdrawing our troops from Iraq and keeping them secret. When he suggested secret ‘timetables,’ General Petraeus’ new strategy in Iraq was just starting. Opponents of General Petraeus’ strategy all argued that we should not increase troop levels, but establish ‘timetables’ for withdrawing our forces from Iraq. It was clear at the time that some were hedging their bets on Iraq, positioning themselves politically by being deliberately vague on their support for General Petraeus’ new strategy.

“Governor Romney also said that there wouldn’t be any real difference on Iraq policy between the Republican nominee and Senator Clinton during the general election. Well, Senator Clinton advocates withdrawal from Iraq within 60 days. Should that be the policy of the Republican nominee in November? Would it be Governor Romney’s?

“I understand if Governor Romney has changed his mind given the obvious success of the surge. But the fact is, like on so many other issues, Governor Romney has hedged, equivocated, ducked, and reversed himself.

“The only people who are owed an apology are the men and women fighting for our country in Iraq, who have a right to expect their leaders to stand by them and their mission not just when it is easy, but when it matters most — when it is hard.”


Text of Romney's Comments on Timetables:

QUESTION: Iraq. John McCain is there in Baghdad right now. You have also been very vocal in supporting the president and the troop surge. Yet, the American public has lost faith in this war. Do you believe that there should be a timetable in withdrawing the troops?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, there's no question but that -- the president and Prime Minister al-Maliki have to have a series of timetables and milestones that they speak about. But those shouldn't be for public pronouncement. You don't want the enemy to understand how long they have to wait in the weeds until you're going to be gone. You want to have a series of things you want to see accomplished in terms of the strength of the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police, and the leadership of the Iraqi government.

QUESTION: So, private. You wouldn't do it publicly? Because the president has said flat out that he will veto anything the Congress passes about a timetable for troop withdrawals. As president, would you do the same?

MR. ROMNEY: Well, of course. Can you imagine a setting where during the Second World War we said to the Germans, gee, if we haven't reached the Rhine by this date, why, we'll go home, or if we haven't gotten this accomplished we'll pull up and leave? You don't publish that to your enemy, or they just simply lie in wait until that time. So, of course, you have to work together to create timetables and milestones, but you don't do that with the opposition.

Video:


Romney's Comments on Hillary's Iraq War Stance:

"Taken in the direction that Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama or John Edwards would take us, we would end up as a second-tier power," Romney said. "We would end up down the road having a weaker military, weaker economy, weaker family structure and on the pathway to being Europe, and that is unacceptable."

Romney said he has spent his adult life making difficult decisions in business, running the 2002 Winter Olympics and being the Massachusetts governor.

"I think I'm relatively unique in the field as someone who has actually dealt with a wide array of very challenging circumstances in the private sector and public sector," he said.

Romney said he could foresee no "reasonable circumstances" under which he would call for a military draft. He predicted that the Iraq war will not be "the big, dividing issue in '08, believe it or not.

"Come the fall of '08, for all of Hillary's rhetoric, she's not going to be demanding a dramatically different course in Iraq than the Republican nominee will," Romney said.

He said that by next fall, U.S. troops will "be playing more of a support role" and "the gap (between the political parties) will not be as huge." He said almost all Republican candidates have criticized President George W. Bush's handling of the war, while Clinton, who he assumes will win the Democratic nomination, "voted to go into Iraq" and should not "pretend like you were in a different place.

"I'm not convinced they're going to beat us on this," he said.


Other Links:

Romney on flip-flopping on surge support at Bloomberg.com.

Interview dodging surge question with Human Events.

Romney responding similarly to Huckabee making the same charge: Timetables Again. Also see the video above.

2 comments:

Gavin said...

The issue is that when Romney said timetable, he was not talking about withdrawal, and McCain knows it. He's plowing full steam ahead anyway, trying to paint Romney with the same brush as Hillary, Edwards, Obama, et. al. Par for the course for a politician, maybe, but not for the conductor of the "straight talk express."

Glock21 said...

If he wasn't talking about withdrawal his answer to questions talking directly about timetables for withdrawal were extremely poorly phrased.

I agree that the bit using his statement on Hillary was out of context and inappropriate, but the Romney campaign and supporters trying to deny he said anything of the sort just comes off as equally disingenuous since he absolutely did as cited above.

If it wasn't for the fact that Romney pulled the same misdirection in his denial with Huckabee I might be more receptive to the idea it's all just about the Hillary comparison. It's obviously not, in my opinion.