Cornyn: Obama model of bipartisanship on war, not healthcare

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on Saturday praised the Obama administration for its commitment to Afghanistan and pledged his party’s continued support for protecting the war-torn state.

The Texas senator also implored the White House to consider deploying additional combat troops to Afghanistan “based on the successful ‘surge’ strategy that worked in Iraq,” adding that such a request would have the full support of congressional Republicans.

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“The terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 enjoyed safe haven in Afghanistan – and that’s why winning in Afghanistan remains so important,” Cornyn said during the Republicans’ weekly radio address.

“Republicans will not waver in our support for our forces in the field – or President Obama – as he fulfills his responsibilities as commander-in-chief to protect the American people,” he added.

Cornyn’s remarks could put the Obama administration in a precarious political position. On one hand, some Democrats – including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) – have expressed an unwillingness to commit additional combat troops to Afghanistan. Many party lawmakers would rather the White House set benchmarks to measure the state’s progress, or would prefer the U.S. military to take on a less offense-based role.

Yet the Obama administration – which has struggled recently to shore up support for its work in Afghanistan – remains open to the idea of additional deployments. So too are congressional Republicans, Cornyn said Saturday – evidence that the two parties could still cooperate on key issues, he added.

“On Afghanistan, President Obama has shown the kind of leadership he promised during the campaign – he’s built consensus and earned bipartisan support,” Cornyn said.

That was not the case, the Texas senator said, on healthcare.

“Yet on healthcare reform, he’s taken a much different approach. He’s paid lip service to bipartisanship while rejecting the ideas that would build bipartisan support,” the Texas senator said, criticizing the administration for the cost of its proposal. “As a result, the president has alienated not only independents and divided his own party, but Republicans as well. And, he’s ignored the clear wishes of the American people.”

Cornyn, along with a host of other GOP lawmakers, will make that case again to viewers on the Sunday talk shows this week. In what is perhaps a preview of what he and his colleagues will say, he ticked off a series of his party’s recommendations for health reform, including changes to malpractice laws and revisions to Medicare and Medicaid.

“By listening to the American people and working across the aisle, President Obama can deliver common-sense health care reforms – reforms that will lower costs and expand access to care,” Cornyn said.