NEW YORK (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty is calling on Republicans to resist “isolationist sentiments” he said would endanger U.S. interests around the world.

In a speech laying out his foreign policy positions, the former Minnesota governor’s remarks on Tuesday were aimed squarely at his chief GOP rival Mitt Romney and others in the party who have advocated a swift drawdown of U.S. military forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

“America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal. It does not need a second one,” Pawlenty said in an address to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

Pawlenty devoted most of the speech to the Middle East and the citizen uprisings throughout the region.

He launched a scathing attack on President Barack Obama, saying Obama had not followed a coherent strategy to respond to the events in places like Egypt, Libya and Syria. He said Obama had been too slow to speak out on behalf of pro-democracy demonstrators, had coddled dictators like Syria’s Bashar Assad, and had empowered the mullahs in Iran.

Pawlenty was especially critical of Obama’s handling of the Israel-Palestinian peace process, saying he showed a “stunning” lack of judgment there.

“The president doesn’t really have a policy toward the peace process. He has an attitude. And let’s be frank about what that attitude is: he thinks Israel is the problem,” Pawlenty said, pledging he would stand strongly with Israel in the peace process if elected president next year.

His remarks were also directed at Republicans, many of whom are feeling heat from tea party activists questioning the long and costly military commitments the U.S. has made around the world.

Romney, who is leading the GOP presidential field, surprised many observers at a debate in New Hampshire last month when he said he wanted troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan as soon as possible. “We’ve learned that our troops shouldn’t go off and try and fight a war of independence for another nation,” the former Massachusetts governor said. “Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.”

And last week, House Republicans voted to deny Obama the authority to wage war against Libya but fell short in an effort to cut off funds for the operation.

Pawlenty said he understood Republicans’ reluctance to back Obama’s policy and said he didn’t want troops in Afghanistan any longer than necessary. But he warned Republicans not to “shrink from the challenges of American leadership” around the globe.

“Our enemies in the war on terror, just like our opponents in the cold war, respect and respond to strength,” Pawlenty said. “Sometimes strength means military intervention. Sometimes it means diplomatic pressure. It always means moral clarity in word and deed.”

Pawlenty has struggled to gain traction in the GOP presidential field against Romney and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann, who formally announced her candidacy Monday. While he and his advisers have spent the last two years laying the groundwork for a presidential campaign, they’ve failed to gain the traction they had anticipated. Instead, they are trailing badly in polls and struggling to raise the millions it will take to win the GOP nomination, let alone compete with Obama.

Thursday is the end of a fundraising quarter that many observers will use as a marker for how serious campaigns are and Pawlenty’s team is working in overdrive to finish the April-to-June period with strong numbers. While some campaigns are expected to report tens of millions of dollars during that period, Pawlenty’s advisers are suggesting a rather modest sum, most likely under $5 million. Many of Pawlenty’s top advisers are working without pay and his most recent advertising purchases in Iowa have been meager.

Pawlenty’s decision to wade into foreign policy came as polls show that economic issues are the top priority for voters. An AP-Gfk poll released last week found that the economy, unemployment and gasoline prices are their top concerns, with terrorism, Afghanistan and relations with other countries far lower on the list.

Pawlenty laid out several goals he said he would pursue as president. He said the U.S. should assist fledgling democracies like Egypt; press monarchies like Saudi Arabia and Jordan on democratic reform; work to oust Assad and boost sanctions on Iran.

A spokesman for the Obama re-election campaign declined to comment on Pawlenty’s speech. But Peter Juul, a policy analyst at the liberal Center for American Progress Action Fund, said the speech exposed the “incoherence” among Republicans on foreign policy issues.

“It’s part of a broader indication of the dysfunction that conservatives are facing when it comes to talking, thinking and acting on foreign policy,” Juul said, adding that Pawlenty appeared to be embracing the aggressive foreign policy posture of former President George W. Bush.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Comments (16)
  1. lefty says:

    the only foreign policy this idiot knows about is that you have to go over the Mississippi river to get to the other foreign country Wisconsin

  2. Carl says:

    T-Paw said, “isolationism will cost far more in the long run than what it would save in the U.S. budget.”

    Isolationism? What isolationism? We’ve got three wars going on at once! How many more can he start?

    Praise Jebus, God hates peace, Amen.

  3. Johnson says:

    That wimp Pawlenty is just dust in the wind now with that bigger idiot Bachman blowing her horn…

  4. Reasonable says:

    Not that I’m advocating violence towards animals or anything, but watching this guy is like watching a fish struggle out of water.

    Oh wise Pawlenty, lead the way and show us how YOU would do things differently! And… nothing.

  5. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    I take it all of you think Obama has done a wonderful job and should be re-elected. (God Help Us)

    1. Tom says:

      @ BeenThereDoneThat

      Considering what we went thru from 2000 – 2008, Yes he has! And Yes he should! The GOP was in charge from 2000 – 2006 how did that work our for you?

      1. Chris says:

        @ Tom…

        You must have been living on the streets at that time to have been worse off than now!!!

        We could not have done better at that time economicly and the only regret is how the home mortgage fiasco was allowed to fester for 20 years (both parties)!

        But since Obama, he has led us down the garden path and we cannot turn back = sickening!

        From the bank buy-offs to the GM buy-out to health INSURANCE reform, we now have an anchor around our necks for decades to come…

    2. What??? says:

      People like you are why nothing can get done in politics. Did anyone say anything about Obama before you did? So, instead of reading what the posts have to say you have to add your own words and make up what people “meant” in the posts? People cannot say what they think that relates to the story they read? Does every story have to do with Obama and how bad/good he is doing? Please spare us all your idiotic rhetoric that you have been spewing since Obama took office. We all know you do not like him, we all know you will say whatever you can to discredit him, yet when 1 thing is said about any of the GOP you start pouting and throwing a fit like a little kid. It is time for you to go to sleep now and let the adults that can read talk now. Nighty night.

      1. Charlie says:

        Oh go look in the mirror already!

        1. What??? says:

          I am good looking as ever. Is there anything else you would like me to do?

  6. mike says:

    Hey Pawlenty, do you actually think anyone is listening to you and your whiny-little rants about how you dislike Obama, I think you need to find something better in your life. How about move on because you will never become president ever.

  7. Murph says:

    Minnesota is the second highest state in the country when it comes to taxes! How can this be since Pawlenty only approved “fees”?. I guess they really were taxes in the real world,vs in Timmy’s world! Don’t elect the clown boy to anything ,anywhere.What he says has no relation to what he does or intends to do! He is whirlwind of hot air. Vomiting nonsense,sneezing half truths and squeezing the life out of poor,sick and retired people to feed his big shot friends!

    1. Slim says:

      Hey Murph!

      Isn’t it time for your meds and a nap?

      Thanks for sharing your wisdom, but we can get by without just fine…

      1. Lee says:

        Slim, what an intgelligent response. Truth hurts don’t it? Remember people who vote, people like Slim will back a man who gives taxpayer money to his rich friends rather than people like you. You do not have enough money to be someone Pawlenty cares about. The people of Minnesota knows what and who this man is. I hope they remember that and enjoy watching him make a fool out of hisself while he sinks. Pride commeth before the fall.

  8. KnuckleHead says:

    Oh great, Pawlenty is interviewing for the next International war criminal. Did he mention all the innocent dead? Has he evr served in the military?

    Send this clown, who is only catering to the Jewish Lobby, to the unemployment line.

  9. Shirl Mann says:

    He didn’t do much for minnesota, we are smart enough to know this man’s a phony and lies, about the deficit he left here in minnesota, and he was out there pedeling himself for the president position most of the time. he was aloser here in minn. why would you want him for president???????????BE CAREFUL WHO YOU VOTE FOR PEOPLE.

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