The Race for 2012: Pawlenty v. Isolationists; Perry on Gaza; Tea Party excited

Pawlenty won’t name the ‘isolationists’ In a decidedly hawkish foreign policy speech this week at the Council on Foreign Relations, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty called out members of his party who “now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments. This is no time for uncertain leadership in either ...

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Pawlenty won't name the ‘isolationists'

In a decidedly hawkish foreign policy speech this week at the Council on Foreign Relations, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty called out members of his party who "now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments. This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party."

Pawlenty won’t name the ‘isolationists’

In a decidedly hawkish foreign policy speech this week at the Council on Foreign Relations, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty called out members of his party who “now seem to be trying to out-bid the Democrats in appealing to isolationist sentiments. This is no time for uncertain leadership in either party.”

Last night, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren asked Pawlenty to name names. The former governor wouldn’t get into specifics, but said “there are several candidates for president and several leading voices in the party beyond that in Washington arguing for going further than the president in terms of an accelerated withdrawal, arguing that we have no business and he has no authority in Libya, arguing we should do nothing in Syria, arguing that we should not have any role in Iraq and beyond,” he said. 

On the campaign trail, several contenders have raised doubts about the extent of our mission in Afghanistan and Libya, including former U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, Rep. Ron Paul, Rep. Michele Bachmann, and — to a lesser extent — former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney.

The Huffington Post quoted Rep. Paul’s son, Senator Rand Paul, attacking Pawlenty’s use of the word isolationist.

“It’s not a valid term. It’s a pejorative term. It’s name calling,” Paul told the website. “Isolationism would mean that you’re nowhere any of the time and you’re completely within a walled-in state. I don’t know anybody who’s for that.”

Americans largely support Obama’s Afghan plan

Though the GOP field is somewhat divided on the president’s Afghanistan withdrawal plan, a majority of Americans polled recently by Gallup, backed what he’s doing. 72 percent supported his plan, while 23 percent opposed it. 50 percent of Republicans said they agreed with his decision to pull 10,000 troops out this year.

When the poll got into specifics of numbers, it found that 29 percent wanted more troops to come home, 19 percent said the number of troops Obama mentioned was too high. 43 percent thought the figure was just right.

NYT/CBS Poll on Republican candidates: Great news for “Anyone else”

Meanwhile, in another poll, likely Republican voters seemed unimpressed with their field of candidates so far. Only 23 percent said they were satisfied with the people in the race. 71 percent said they wanted more choices.

67 percent could not name a single candidate they were excited about. While Mitt Romney and Michele Bachmann both had 7 percent saying they were enthusiastic about their candidacies.

The poll wasn’t all bad news for Republicans. It found that Democrats are less enthusiastic about the race in general than Republicans.  Only 24 percent of Democrats said they were more excited for 2012 than they were for 2008. 33 percent of Republicans were more excited this year and self-described Tea Party supporters were 44 percent more excited.

Perry to Justice Department: Stop Gaza flotilla

Gov. Rick Perry hasn’t announced he’s running for president yet, but he’s already wading into international issues and sounding a lot like a candidate. This week he sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder urging him to do more to stop a planned flotilla of ships to Gaza, which are carrying humanitarian supplies. Israel has a maritime blockade against Gaza.

“As an American citizen and governor of one of its largest states…I write to encourage you to aggressively pursue all available legal remedies to enjoin and prevent these illegal actions, and to prosecute any who may elect to engage in them in spite of your preemptive efforts,” Perry wrote.

Perry said participating in the flotilla would violate U.S. law because it would provide “material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization,” meaning Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and is on the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations. 

According to the Houston Chronicle, Perry has visited Israel several times in the past and “has touted what he calls its ‘special kinship’ with Texas.”

Robert Zeliger is News Editor of Foreign Policy.

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