GOP lawmaker says Obama trip to Afghanistan is campaign-related

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), a member of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, criticized President Obama’s surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday as “clearly” campaign-related.

“Clearly this trip is campaign-related,” Inhofe said in a statement. “We’ve seen recently that President Obama has visited college campuses in an attempt to win back the support of that age group since he has lost it over the last three years. Similarly, this trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military.”

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Obama conducted official business in Afghanistan upon his arrival on Tuesday, signing a long-planned agreement with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on the post-war role for the United States in the country.

In March, the agreement seemed to be in jeopardy, amid fury over the killing of 16 Afghan civilians, allegedly by a U.S. soldier. Some Afghan lawmakers said Karzai should refuse to sign the agreement unless the suspect is tried in Afghanistan.

But Obama’s trip also served as a victory lap for the president, as Tuesday marked the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s killing at the hands of a team of U.S. Navy SEALs. The president will also give a nationally televised address in front of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan.

“Unfortunately, this President has allowed Washington and campaign politics to dictate his strategy in Afghanistan rather than the conditions on the ground,” Inhofe continued. “We saw this when he failed to provide the troops the commanders needed during the surge, and again when he brought troops home during the height of fighting season. 

Republicans have consistently charged that the president is campaigning under the guise of official White House business.

In late April, Obama spoke at rallies on college campuses in the battleground states of North Carolina, Iowa and Colorado, urging Congress to act to prevent a hike in student loan interest rates.

The trips were billed as official White House business, but Republicans in Congress are calling on the president to reimburse taxpayers for the cost of the trips, saying they were campaign-oriented visits.