When President Obama announced in October that he was ordering all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of the year, Mitt Romney’s campaign issued a statement assailing the president, calling his decision an “astonishing failure”:
“President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”
Yet today during an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board, Romney backtracked. Immediately after criticizing Obama for not keeping up to 30,000 troops in Iraq, the former Massachusetts governor said the withdrawal is the right move:
ROMNEY: With regards to Iraq, of course we’re following the Bush timeline with one exception and that is the [blank space] President Bush and I believe others anticipated that we would have an ongoing force, somewhere between 10 and 20 and 30,000 there to help with the transition. President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense suggested that would be the case and they were unable to negotiate a status of forces agreement to allow the 10 to 20 to 30,000 troops to remain which I think was a failure on the part of the administration. But is the wind down in Iraq appropriate? Yes.
It seems like Romney and Newt Gingrich are in stiff competition for this year’s top GOP flip-flopper. Gingrich’s recent Iraq reversal clocked in at an impressive 13 seconds. Perhaps Romney is trying to reclaim the mantle.