Pawlenty to target Obama, GOP in foreign policy address

NEW YORK -- GOP presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty on Tuesday will take on President Obama -- and his rivals within his own party -- on foreign affairs as he seeks to carve out his own niche within the Republican field. 

During his address at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York City, he will look to position himself as a hawkish candidate and draw a sharp contrast with Obama on international engagement.


He'll also warn other Republican presidential candidates not to turn inward from the U.S.'s international engagements as skepticism over the Afghan war, especially its cost, has increased among GOP ranks on Capitol Hill.

"What is wrong, is for the Republican Party to shrink from the challenges of American leadership in the world. History repeatedly warns us that in the long run, weakness in foreign policy costs us and our children much more than we’ll save in a budget line item," he will say. "America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment, and withdrawal; it does not need a second one."

The ex-governor, who is unknown to a large swath of the voting public, is looking to burnish his foreign policy credentials and prove he's a multi-faceted candidate who is electable. 

He'll use his speech as a cudgel against Obama's speech on the Middle East last month.

The former Minnesota governor will call out Obama for failing to "carry out an effective and coherent strategy in response" to pro-democratic uprisings across the Middle East.


"President Obama has ignored that lesson of history. Instead of promoting democracy – whose fruit we see now ripening across the region – he adopted a murky policy he called 'engagement,'" Pawlenty will say, according to excepts of his remarks.

Pawlenty will say it's not a new problem for Obama, accusing him of not backing Iranian anti-government demonstrators in 2009: "President Obama held his tongue.  His silence validated the mullahs, despite the blood on their hands and the nuclear centrifuges in their tunnels."

He'll also draw a contrast between himself and Obama on Israel, after the president called for a peace settlement with the Palestinians to be based on the 1967 borders, with mutual land swaps.

"Israeli-Palestinian peace is further away now than the day Barack Obama came to office," he said. "We must recognize that peace will only come if everyone in the region perceives clearly that America stands strongly with Israel."