ABC News’ Rick Klein reports:
President Obama’s response to the crisis in Egypt has drawn mostly praise from his political opponents, with Republicans joining Democrats in presenting something of a united front at home in the face of an uncertain situation abroad.
But on ABC’s “Top Line” today, former Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., said President Obama’s move away from President Bush’s “democracy agenda” of supporting expansions of democracy around the world has left the White House with fewer alternatives in hastening the end of the Mubarak regime.
“The White House is doing what they can do now, which is actually very little,” said Coleman, who now serves as CEO of the American Action Network.
“Mubarak's gonna be gone. There is a need for a transition period. If there is no transition period, then the Muslim-Egyptian Brotherhood kind of moves in, and I think that's the great fear — this is not good for Israel, this is not good for America. …”
“However, if there’s one criticism I have it’s that the White House didn’t have an active democracy agenda beforehand, and so all of a sudden we are captive of the events as things are playing out now,” he added.
“I think the White House abandoned the democracy agenda because it was the Bush agenda. Had the White House been working more closely with the forces in Egypt, understanding that Mubarak could not continue on forever, that there had to be an alternative, an answer somewhere down the road, we might have been in a better position.”
Coleman also talked about the American Action Network’s efforts to reach out to Latino voters. While he is celebrating the election of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and two new Hispanic Republican voters, he acknowledged that the GOP has “got a problem” when it comes to reaching out to Latinos.
“We have a tone problem. And we have a reality problem. But the opportunity is there,” Coleman said. “We're going to talk about a solution to immigration, somehow somewhere between shipping everybody out and amnesty there's got to be a solution. We have to address this issue, because if we don’t we're not going to be a majority party in the future.”
“Let me be very clear: It's not just a tone issue it's a substance issue. We have to be very clear in rejecting [former Republican congressman and gubernatorial candidate] Tom Tancredo, saying he’s not the voice of the Republican Party, on issues dealing with Hispanics, immigration. What we have to do is simply have a pro-active agenda.”
On the 2012 presidential race, Coleman voiced support for two “friends” from Minnesota, and one from nearby South Dakota.
“I have a lot of friends, and I always stick with my friends. Tim Pawlenty's out there. Michele Bachmann's out there, our neighbor John Thune is, you know — there are some rumblings. We've got a lot of opportunity in 2012.”
“All that said and done, the president's still got the edge. It's tough to beat an incumbent president. On the other hand, if this president doesn't move more aggressively to do some things to move this economy forward — the unemployment rate is hovering at 9, 9.5 percent — there's going to be a new president.”
Coleman also told us that he won’t challenge Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., next year, ruling out a run for Senate in 2012 for the first time.
Watch the portion of the program with Norm Coleman HERE.
Also today, we chatted with Dana Milbank of The Washington Post, who has declared himself to be “Palin-free” for the month of February.
Could he last an entire “Top Line” segment without saying the words “Sarah Palin.” Find out by watching HERE.