Leon Panetta, a former top adviser to President Obama, said Sunday the president needs “the heart of a warrior.”
The former Defense secretary and chief of the Central Intelligence Agency drew headlines last week, when he second-guessed the president’s foreign policy in interviews and a new book.
“Look, I don’t mind presidents who have the quality of a law professor,” he said. “But presidents needs to also have the heart of a warrior. That’s the way you get things done, is you engage in the fight.”
Panetta added that he thinks Washington is at its worst right now, and the country cannot afford to round out the rest of Obama’s time in office locked in a stalemate.
“If he wants to be able to get the things done that he wants done … he has got to get into the ring,” he said. “Everybody's got to get in and fight to make sure that we do the right thing for the country.”
Amid rumblings that the president could shake up his staff following the midterm elections, Panetta said some new blood might be a good idea.
“Bringing new life in, bringing new views in would be very helpful to giving the president that greater exposure to a lot of different options that he's going to have to consider if he's going to get things done,” he said.
On defense matters, Panetta said the U.S. needs to remain open to all options, as it tries to build support behind a campaign to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), including placing American troops in the region.
“We are dealing with a very resilient enemy,” he said. “And the only way you deal with a resilient enemy is with flexibility, adaptability, and the kind of determination that we're going to need if we're ever going to win this war.”
Panetta said there must be some sort of ground presence on the ground in Iraq and Syria to combat ISIS. While they need not necessarily be American troops, Panetta said there needs to be ground support to help identify targets the U.S. could attack through the air.