While the GOP presidential field remained relatively silent on whether President Obama deserves any credit for the death of Libyan dictator, Muammar Qaddafi, Obama’s 2008 rival gave credit to the administration today.
Speaking on Fox News, McCain said, “This is a victory for the president, the Obama administration but most importantly” for Libyans fighting the last vestiges of the Qaddafi regime. McCain’s office released the following statement: “The death of Muammar Qaddafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution. While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country. Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans.”
Meanwhile, Governors Rick Perry and Mitt Romney, vying for the GOP nomination to replace Mr. Obama, while praising Qaddafi’s death, for obvious reasons did not give any credit to the administration. “The death of Muammar el-Qaddafi is good news for the people of Libya. It should bring the end of conflict there, and help them move closer to elections and a real democracy,” according to Gov. Perry.
And, Mitt Romney, while celebrating Qaddafi’s death, also omitted any mention of the administration or its controversial decision to participate in the no-fly zone. “I think it’s about time…Gaddafi — terrible tyrant that killed his own people and murdered Americans and others in the tragedy at Lockerbie. The world is a better place with Gaddafi gone,” Romney asserted. Meanwhile, the only GOP candidate with substantial foreign policy experience, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, seems to want it both ways. In a statement, the former governor said, that this was “positive news for freedom loving people everywhere.” However, he contends that he ultimately still opposed U.S. intervention in Libya, “I remain firm in my belief that America can best serve our interests and that transition through non-military assistance and rebuilding our own economic core here at home.”
The GOP presidential field finds itself in a dilemma. While their criticisms of the administration’s handling of the economy and other domestic issues does bear some merit, the Obama White House has witnessed a number of foreign policy successes. Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid authorized by the president, Anwar al-Awlaki was killed by a CIA drone attack and the U.S. is on track to completely remove U.S. combat forces from Iraq in the near future.
Additionally, many of the GOP candidates seem to have taken a more hawkish view of foreign policy. Namely, Herman Cain’s suggestion that U.S. forces could be committed in Afghanistan longer than even Obama wants to and Mitt Romney’s pledge to beef up America’s military, including a pledge to build more warships and keep afloat, at all time, all 11 aircraft carrier battle groups.