TAMPA, Florida — Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R), a top surrogate for Mitt Romney, laid into those in the Republican Party who wanted to get rid of foreign aid funding, calling the idea “directionally not correct.”
The only problem? At a Republican primary debate in November last year, Romney joined the call for eliminating U.S. foreign aid commitments. “[O]ne of the things we have to do with our foreign aid commitments, the ongoing foreign aid commitments, I agree with Governor Perry,” said Romney. “You start everything at zero.”
Speaking at The Tampa Club with Bill Kristol, Pawlenty criticized the “isolationist wing” of his party that is “very hostile towards foreign aid and development monies.” Noting the modest amount that America actually spends on foreign aid — it makes up less than one percent of the federal budget — Pawlenty broke with his party’s presidential candidate, calling it “important to preserve and maintain that commitment.”
PAWLENTY: First of all, my party has a wing or a portion of it that is trending towards isolationism and is trending towards being very hostile towards foreign aid and development monies. I think my personal view of that is that is directionally not correct. For the modest amount of money that is on the table — doesn’t mean it can’t be reformed and we can’t scrutinize it — but for the modest amount of money we’re talking about and the important role that it plays in terms of America’s position and role in the world, I think it’s important to preserve and maintain that commitment.
Others in the Republican Party are also pushing back against the call to eliminate foreign aid as well. In a speech earlier this year, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) ridiculed the proposition, calling it “outrightly foolish” and “un-Christian.”