ThinkProgress filed this report from the Western Republican Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, NV.
Following the death of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, ThinkProgress spoke with Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV) at a Republican conference Thursday to get the Tea Party congressman’s take on the matter. We asked Heck, who voted against American involvement in NATO air campaign in Libya, whether President Obama deserves credit for yesterday’s outcome. “No,” replied Heck. He remained steadfast in his opposition to America’s role in protecting Libyan civilians, despite Qaddafi’s ultimate demise.
KEYES: Do you think that President Obama deserves credit for Colonel Qaddafi’s death today?
HECK: No. The people who deserve credit are the folks that have fueled that uprising and that have come up against…from the groundswell of folks that decided they no longer wanted to live under oppression. You got to say, does the ends justify the means? While it was a great day that this may have occurred and while there’s one less tyrant, the fact is I still believe that we had no reason from a national security perspective to go and get involved in Libya to begin with.
Heck’s decision not to give credit to President Obama places him at odds with his party’s presidential frontrunner, Mitt Romney, who told an Iowa crowd Thursday that the president “absolutely” deserves credit.
Still, Heck is not alone. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also let partisanship prevent him from giving President Obama, or the United States, any praise, choosing instead to dole out compliments to “the French and the British.” For his part, Heck chose to credit Libyan rebels for Qaddafi’s downfall, which is fair, but ignores the fact that President Obama’s decision to support NATO airstrikes is what enabled those rebels to survive and overthrow the dictator. In fact, the U.N.-backed resolution and resulting airstrikes in March came just as Qaddafi’s forces were preparing to massacre rebels in the city of Benghazi.
Back in June, Congress voted on whether or not to support Obama’s decision to join international airstrikes against Qaddafi’s forces. Heck joined 93 percent of House Republican in voting for the resolution to rebuke American involvement in Libyan operations.