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Democrats back Obama on Libya; Pawlenty, Bachmann divided on policy

 Democrats, who by and large supported the President Obama’s Libya strategy, remained supportive following the president’s speech explaining his policy last night.

“I support America’s limited role in the international effort to protect Libyan civilians from being massacred by the tyrant Qaddafi,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, in comments largely echoed by Democratic House leaders Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer.

“I agree with President Obama that standing idly by while Qaddafi made good on his edict to slaughter 700,000 Libyans in Benghazi – including women, children and the elderly – would be an unacceptable blow to America’s values and the security of the region. However, the success of the rebels’ military campaign to remove Qaddafi from power is in the hands of the Libyan people, not the United States.”

Sen. Al Franken said Obama “laid out a persuasive case for why we needed — and were able — to act and how we’ve saved countless lives in Libya.

“This kind of action is similar to what President Clinton did in Kosovo, where we helped stop atrocities with our allies. Going forward, the military operation in Libya will be commanded by NATO, with the U.S. in a supporting role, and I will continue supporting the efforts of the Libyan people for democratic change.”

Republicans meanwhile have been largely blasting the White House for not clearly outlining what the ultimate goals are, and how the United States can make sure they happen.

However, the calls weren’t unanimous in their direction. Presidential aspirants Tim Pawlenty and Michele Bachmann, for two, divided on how much action the United States ought to be taking (Pawlenty on the hawkish side and Bachmann questioning the intervention).

Tim Pawlenty had been calling for a no fly zone for weeks, and has hit the White House repeatedly for dithering on instituting one. When asked Tuesday morning by NBC’s Mika Brzezinski, he said the president is in the “untenable” position of saying Gadhafi must go, but we’re not going to necessarily make him go.

“This is President Obama’s war, as long as our troops and our treasure remain under NATO’s command,” Rep. Michele Bachmann said on “Fox Business Network,” again questioning how friendly the Libyan rebel forces are to the United States. “This is his war and there is no endgame.”

The one point Republicans agreed on was a lack of clarity from the White House.

John Kline, on Twitter Tuesday, said he was “disappointed” in Obama’s speech. “The American people – including our troops – need clarity as to what our mission is.”

The 25-year Marine veteran will be given an opportunity to question the operational strategy later this week. The House Armed Services Committee, of which Kline is a member, scheduled a full committee hearing on the Libyan operation for Thursday.

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