Tim Pawlenty Calls Obama’s Afghanistan Plan ‘Deeply Concerning’ and ‘a Grave Mistake’

By MichaelJames

Jun 22, 2011 10:10pm

ABC News' Matthew Jaffe reports:

GOP candidate Tim Pawlenty tonight criticized President Obama's decision to bring home 33,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of next summer as "a grave mistake."

"I thought his speech tonight was deeply concerning," Pawlenty said in an interview with Bill O'Reilly on Fox News this evening. "Look how he phrased the outcome of this war: He said we need to end the war 'responsibly.' When America goes to war, America needs to win. We need to close out the war successfully, and what that means now is not nation-building. What it means is to follow Gen. Petraeus' advice and to get those security forces built up to the point where they can pick up the slack as we draw down."

Pawlenty said Obama apparently believes he knows better than Petraeus, who Pawlenty praised as "the smartest, most insightful guy in this debate."

"This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success, not some vague notions of a responsible wind-down and then jumping over what the real mission is now, which is stabilizing the security of that country," he said.

"To leave now when we're so close to a successful completion … I think is a grave mistake," he said.

On a lighter note, in a reference to Pawlenty's reputation as not the most exciting candidate ever, O'Reilly jokingly offered to take the former Minnesota governor out for vanilla ice cream the next time he comes to New York.

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