CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Republican Mitt Romney -- whose lead in Iowa appears to be evaporating as Mike Huckabee gains ground in the polls -- has made an odd pronouncement about the war in Iraq. While campaigning in a small Iowa community Wednesday, Romney said Illinois Democrat Barack Obama would have pulled U.S. troops out of Iraq if Obama had been president. But there were no U.S. troops in Iraq until the war started -- George Bush sent them in April 2003 based upon inaccurate reports Saddam Hussein's regime had vast stores of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Obama would not have ordered the invasion.
What make Romney's reasoning seem totally confounding is that Obama has always opposed sending U.S. ground forces into Iraq. That opposition is a pillar of his campaign for the presidency. Thus, a President Obama would not have removed troops in 2003 or thereafter -- he would not have sent them in the first place.
Romney's comment and the Obama campaign's swift reaction is reported in the Des Moines Register. The Republican's words conjured up 1968, when Michigan Gov. George Romney (Mitt's dad) said on the presidential campaign trail that year he had been "brainwashed" about Vietnam. The comment was seen as showing he did not understand or comprehend the roots of the Southeast Asian war, and George Romney's campaign soon tanked. Mitt's presidential bid is stronger than his father's, but could be prone to the same kind of prattling as the Obama comment clearly reflects.
Here's what Mitt Romney said:
"We're fortunate we did not have Barack Obama as president. If he had been president, he'd have just pulled our troops out and al-Qaeda would have been a safe haven in Iraq."
Obama's spokesman Tommy Vincent's response:
"If Barack Obama were president, we never would have gone into Iraq in the first place. We would've gone after Osama bin Laden, finished the job in Afghanistan, and made America a lot safer than it is even after seven years of a divisive foreign policy that Mitt Romney apparently wants to continue."