ABC News’ Teddy Davis Reports: A top Republican presidential contender is facing Democratic criticism for not being more skeptical towards former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s early assessment that the Iraqi insurgency consisted simply of a "few dead enders."
"I think we all expected what Secretary Rumsfeld said — there are a few dead-enders we need to sweep up and we’ll be done. That’s what we were expecting," former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., tells ABC News’ Nightline in a portion of the interview that did not air on television. "I think we’ve been surprised by the fact that what has occurred is a far more vehement and extensive a battle than we ever imagined."
An aide to Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., a former Reagan Navy Secretary who has opposed the war from the beginning, reacted to Romney’s comments by pointing to Webb’s Jan. 11 statement to the Senate Armed Services Committee in which he argued that what has happened in Iraq since the invasion was "both predicted and predictable."
While delivering last week’s Democratic response to President Bush’s State of the Union, Webb reviewed the various warnings about invading Iraq that President Bush received prior to the start of the U.S.-led invasion.
"The president took us into this war recklessly," Webb said last week. "He disregarded warnings from the national security adviser during the first Gulf War, the chief of staff of the army, two former commanding generals of the Central Command, whose jurisdiction includes Iraq, the director of operations on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and many, many others."
Romney argued in his Nightline interview that looking back does not help the United States go forward in Iraq.
"We can go back and say: ‘Why didn’t we have better planning? Why didn’t we have more troops on the ground? Why didn’t we contemplate the downsides as we were getting in?’" Romney asked rhetorically. "The truth is the answers to those questions don’t tell us what to do today."
To see more of Terry Moran’s interview with Romney, tune in to Nightline at 11:35 p.m.