McCain, Neocons Praise Pawlenty’s ‘Strong Foreign Policy Speech’

Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty delivered a major foreign policy speech yesterday that was widely panned for its confusion and incoherence. One observer even went so far as to say, “It was actually a little painful to watch.”

But apparently, one of Pawlenty’s goals with his speech yesterday was to distance himself from the neocons. The Cable’s Josh Rogin noted yesterday that Pawlenty’s views mirror those of GOP hawks Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Linsdey Graham (R-SC), and Joe Lieberman (I-CT), but he “doesn’t want to be identified as a neoconservative, and doesn’t want his views to be tied to those senators in particular.” Indeed, in a recent interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, Pawlenty specifically asked not to be associated with McCain’s neocon/hawkish wing of the GOP:

I wish you could think of another way to describe this wing of the party, other than McCain and Lindsey Graham. I love John, but that’s like saying we’re embracing Nelson Rockefeller on economics.”

But despite Pawlenty’s wishes, it seems like the only people who had any sense of admiration for what he said in his speech were McCain and the neocons. “Strong foreign policy speech by @timpawlenty yesterday, worth reading in full,” McCain tweeted this afternoon. And to top it off, the war hawk oped writers in Washington signed on too:

THE WEEKLY STANDARD: “Tim Pawlenty strongly criticized President Obama’s ‘murky policy’ of ‘engagement.’

WASHINGTON POST RIGHT TURN: “Former Minnesota governor and 2012 Republican candidate Tim Pawlenty delivered a strong foreign policy speech at the Council on Foreign Relations yesterday.”

COMMENTARY: “I have been complaining that too many Republicans seem eager to run away from their party’s proud legacy of being strong on national security policy. But there are some notable exceptions, including presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.”

AMERICAN ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: “This morning, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty sought to claim the mantle of Ronald Reagan, delivering a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations that vigorously endorsed a freedom-centered foreign policy for the Republican Party.”

Seeming to recognize that the war mongering nature of neoconservatism has been discredited and is deeply unpopular, Pawlenty can try all he wants to say he’s not sympathetic to its credo. But neocons know they have their man in Pawlenty, and as the old saying goes, you can run but you can’t hide.