Gibbs calls out Cantor on Afghanistan

With Republicans accusing President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaDemocrats make final plea for voting rights ahead of filibuster showdown Biden nominates Jane Hartley as ambassador to UK To boost economy and midterm outlook, Democrats must pass clean energy bill MORE of stalling on a new Afghanistan strategy, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs took a shot at the House minority whip Wednesday.

Gibbs blasted Rep. Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorRepublicans eager to take on Spanberger in Virginia Virginia emerging as ground zero in battle for House majority McAuliffe's loss exposes deepening Democratic rift MORE (R-Va.), who has accused Obama of dragging his feet on sending more troops to the region, saying that Republicans like Cantor weren't as impatient when former President George W. Bush was considering the Iraq surge strategy.


Cantor and other Republicans say Obama is stalling on making a decision even though U.S. commanders have said, in a report leaked to The Washington Post, that they need more troops for success in Afghanistan.

"I don't recall Congressman Cantor saying that when Gen. David McKiernan's request for 30,000 additional troops sat on the desk of the previous commander in chief," Gibbs said. "I don't remember him going to a newspaper or on television saying that that commander in chief was endangering the lives of men and women in Afghanistan."

Gibbs said if Cantor and other Republicans "didn't say that under a somewhat similar circumstance, then it's a bunch of game-playing."

"And I would say this to Congressman Cantor and everybody else: The American people deserve an assessment that's beyond game-playing," Gibbs said.

Gibbs also said he was looking "forward to his response on what he said to the previous administration when that request was sitting on the desk."

Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring replied that when the president "said that the mission in Afghanistan was a war of necessity, Mr. Cantor was one of the first to support him."

"The fact is that our commanders in the field have conveyed a clear sense of urgency that a timely decision by the commander in chief could ultimately determine the success or failure of the mission," Dayspring said. "Mr. Gibbs knows that. Mr. Cantor hopes that the president will stand by his original commitment, and believes that he will make the right decision."

Obama and his aides have insisted that they are intent on pursuing a strategy before deploying additional resources, instead of the other way around.

The back-and-forth between Capitol Hill and the White House came as Obama was sitting down for the second in a series of meetings on Afghanistan.

The president was spending Wednesday afternoon in an "hours-long" meeting with his top military advisers in the White House situation room, Gibbs said.