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In foreign affairs speech, Pawlenty goes after Obama and Republicans

WASHINGTON — Tim Pawlenty called President Obama “timid and slow” in responding to the democratic movement in the Middle East and offered an agenda of using U.S. influence in the region to spur change.

Tim Pawlenty
REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Tim Pawlenty

“The Middle East is changing before our eyes — but our government has not kept up,” he said. “The next president must do better. Today, in our own Republican Party, some look back and conclude our projection of strength and defense of freedom was a product of different times and different challenges. While times have changed, the nature of the challenge has not.”

In assessing Obama’s foreign policy approach, Pawlenty repeated a phrase from his presidential rival, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann: Obama has “led from behind,” pointing to his hesitancy to address democratic uprisings in Iran, Egypt and Syria.

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“I called for [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad’s departure on March 29; I call for it again today,” Pawlenty said. “We should recall our ambassador from Damascus; and I call for that again today. The leader of the United States should never leave those willing to sacrifice their lives in the cause of freedom wondering where America stands. As President, I will not.”

“What is wrong is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world,” Pawlenty said. “America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal. It does not need a second one.”