During tonight’s Republican presidential debate, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney sharply attacked former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee for criticizing President Bush’s foreign policy.
Huckabee responded by pointing out that Romney had previously “supported a timed withdrawal” from Iraq. Indignant — and once again unwilling to give up his role as Bush’s biggest booster — Romney retorted, “I do not support and have never supported a timed withdrawal, so that’s wrong, Governor.” Watch it:
Romney must have forgotten about his plan to devise a secret strategy to get out of Iraq. In an ABC News interview in April, Romney revealed that he would “plot out a series of timetables” with the Iraqi government:
ROBERTS: As president, would you set a deadline for bringing the troops home?
ROMNEY: Well, I wouldn’t publish it for my adversaries to see.
I would certainly sit down with al-Maliki as well as his government, plot out a series of milestones, timetables as well, measure how well they’re doing.
But that’s not something you’d publish for the enemy to understand, because, of course, they can just lay in the weeds until the time that you’re gone. So these are the kinds of things you do privately, not necessarily publicly.
More recently, on Sept. 3, Romney said that “sometime in ’08,” he publicly predicted that U.S. troops would be able to shift to “a support role,” where they would be “no longer in the front.”
ROMNEY: A number of things.
I disagree with the governor writing in Foreign Affairs magazine that the president’s administration suffers from an arrogant bunker mentality.
HUCKABEE: Did you read the article before you commented on it?
ROMNEY: I did read the article, the whole article. I read the entire article and I thought it was — well, I won’t make any further comments. It was not…
HUCKABEE: Before you commented on it?
ROMNEY: Before — I got a copy of the article and read the article. And in the headline of the article, it said, The Bush…
MCCAIN: Did you read mine?
ROMNEY: No, no, hold on.
John, no, I didn’t. Sorry. But I read his.
ROMNEY: And number two…
(UNKNOWN): What about mine?
ROMNEY: Number two — number two, I did support the surge. It was Senator McCain, of all of us, who was out fighting for the surge. He right on that.
On the same day the president announced the surge, I also, having spoken that day with Fred Kagan, who’s one of the brilliant theorists in this regard, I laid out my plan that I thought made sense — actually even before the president’s speech — calling for additional troops. I called for a different number.
So I also supported the surge from the very beginning.
ROMNEY: But, look, you know, Governor, don’t try and characterize my position. Of course, this war…
HUCKABEE: Which one?
ROMNEY: You know, we’re wise to talk about policies and not to make personal attacks.
HUCKABEE: Well, it’s not a personal attack, Mitt, because you also supported a timed withdrawal. And Senator Pryor from my state…
ROMNEY: No, that’s…
HUCKABEE: … was praising you for that, and…
ROMNEY: I do not support and have never supported a timed withdrawal, so that’s wrong, Governor.
You know, it’s really helpful if you talk about your policies and the things you believe, and let me talk about my policies.
And my policy is, I’ve never talked about a timed withdrawal with a date certain for us to leave. That’s not the case. Simply wrong.
I’ve also supported the troop surge, Governor, and I supported it on the same day the president brought it forward.