Pawlenty to Tackle Foreign Policy in Tuesday Speech

Jun 28, 2011 8:44am

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe (@jaffematt) reports:


In the latest installment of his "hard truths" campaign that has lately fallen on hard times, Tim Pawlenty Tuesday will warn about the pitfalls of President Obama's foreign policy, as well as what could happen to his fellow Republicans if they fail to take a tougher stance.

In a speech to be delivered at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York at 9:30 a.m. ET Tuesday morning, the former Minnesota governor is set to outline an aggressive approach foreign engagement that is likely to resonate with some of the GOP's more hawkish members.

"What is wrong is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world. History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item. America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal; it does not need a second one," Pawlenty will say in his speech, according to excerpts of his prepared remarks.

In the speech, billed as a rebuttal to President Obama's address last month, Pawlenty will hit out at the president for America’s response to the Arab Spring and his approach to Israel.

"President Obama has failed to formulate and carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response to these events," Pawlenty will say. "He has been timid, slow, and too often without a clear understanding of our interests or a clear commitment to our principles."

"Instead of promoting democracy – whose fruit we see now ripening across the region – he adopted a murky policy he called 'engagement.' 'Engagement' meant that in 2009, when the Iranian ayatollahs stole an election, and the people of that country rose up in protest, President Obama held his tongue. His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels."

On Israel, Pawlenty will argue, "Israeli-Palestinian peace is further away now than the day Barack Obama came to office. But that does not have to be a permanent situation. We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel."

Tuesday's speech comes as Pawlenty finds himself in the midst of a difficult few weeks, kicked off by a poor performance in the GOP debate in New Hampshire and punctuated by a dismal showing in the Des Moines Register poll last weekend, where he garnered only 6 percent support, far behind Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney, fellow Minnesotan Michele Bachmann, and others. That's cause for concern for Pawlenty, who has made Iowa a central part of his campaign strategy.

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