ABC News’ Amy Walter reports:
Former New Mexico Rep. Heather Wilson (R), who also served on the National Security Council in charge of NATO in the George H.W. Bush Administration, had harsh words for President Obama’s handling of the crisis in Libya on ABC’s “Topline” program.
While the Administration has been careful to cast U.S. engagement in Libya as “time-limited, scope-limited military action,” when asked if we are at war in Libya, Wilson replied, “of course we are.” She went on to criticize the way the Obama Administration has handled the relationship with NATO.
“Over the last several days here we’ve had this unusual kabuki dance at NATO,” she said. “That kind of lack of clarity is a failure of American leadership. American forces must be under American command with the force necessary to win a clearer mission and the ability to come home again. And I think the President has not served as well over the last several weeks in Libya.”
Last night, NATO agreed to relieve the United States of responsibility for enforcing the no-fly zone in Libya.
Wilson, who served as director of the European Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council from 1989-1991, called the new arrangement “an odd situation.”
“The question is unity of command. And they apparently came up with some kind of an odd situation where NATO will be commanding part of the operation but some will continue to be done by the French, and the Brits, and the Americans. Very unclear. And when you’re in a military operation you need very clear lines of authority and a very clear mission.”
Wilson is making her second attempt at the U.S. Senate in New Mexico. In 2008, Wilson narrowly lost the Republican primary to Steve Pearce, who ran to her right. Her potential opponent in 2012, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez (R), has recently attacked Wilson, who compiled a moderate record in Congress as not conservative enough.
For her part, Wilson stresses her conservative bonafides, “I am a pro-life, pro-second amendment, free-enterprise republican and I am very proud of it.” As for her 2008 loss to a conservative opponent, Wilson says “2008 was a very different year and I think the important thing is for the nation to look forward.”
Her message: fiscal issues not social issues are going to dominate the primary this time around. However, even on fiscal issues, Wilson is going to have some troubles with Tea Party types. She voted to support TARP as well as Medicare prescription drug bill.