After arriving in Afghanistan’s capitol Kabul to sign a strategic partnership agreement with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama took to the American airwaves to explain the agreement and his broader Afghanistan strategy to the U.S. A few critics on the right — prone to faulting Obama for his every move — sought to bash the president. “Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” said Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), admonishing Obama for a supposed “attempt to shore up his national security credentials” in the 2012 campaign.
But Inhofe’s blatantly political shot is being undermined by members of his own party and their ideological allies, who have either praised Obama or stuck to criticizing the strategy. Asked by CNN’s Dana Bash before the speech if he viewed the trip as “spiking the football” for the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been a critic of Obama’s Afghanistan strategy, said, “No, I don’t view it as that.” He also lauded the trip and the strategic agreement:
MCCAIN: I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s always good when the president goes to where young men and women are in harm’s way.
And I think that many of us who have been involved in Afghanistan are very supportive of the strategic partnership agreement, which I’m sure he’ll be talking about, and we think the agreement is good. We obviously would like to know the details.
BASH: …Do you think that this trip is also part of his political campaign?
MCCAIN: No, I can’t accuse the president of that.
Appearing separately on CNN with Wolf Blitzer, Homeland Security Committee chair Rep. Peter King (R-NY) also supported the trip, though he reserved judgement on the agreement until he could view it in detail. King said, “(H)is visit to Afghanistan is perfectly right. I applaud him for doing it.” The Congressman went on:
KING: Well, as president and commander-in-chief, I applaud him being in Afghanistan. I think it’s important for the troops to see the president and certainly after all of these years of fighting where the troops have done such heroic work and did such an outstanding job. I think it’s important for the president to be there and signing the agreement with President Karzai.
…I think it is always very good when the president of the United States can visit a war zone, especially on such a key moment as this.
Watch clips of the interviews with McCain and King:
McCain and King aren’t the only Republicans praising Obama’s trip. Romney foreign policy adviser Max Boot wrote that “substance of the speech” was “somber and serious and largely free of election-year politicking.” Romney himself released a statement that said: “I am pleased that President Obama has returned to Afghanistan. Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our President about what is at stake in this war.”