GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich responded to news Sunday that sixteen Afghan civilians were allegedly killed by a U.S. soldier. Appearing on Face the Nation (CBS), Gingrich said if he were president, his first step would be to assure the Afghan people justice will be done, offering condolences and compensation. He said it also would be time to make major policy changes in Afghanistan, including immediate withdrawal.
“We have to reconsider the entire region,” Gingrich said. “We need to understand that our being in the middle of countries like Afghanistan is probably counterproductive. We’re not prepared to be ruthless enough to force them to change. And yet, we are clearly an alien presence.” Gingrich recently said, following a spate of violence against NATO soldiers by Afghans instigated by Quran burnings, that the situation there was not fixable.
Offering condolences, President Barack Obama said he was “deeply saddened” by the events in Afghanistan. “This incident is tragic and shocking, and does not represent the exceptional character of our military and the respect that the United States has for the people of Afghanistan,” he said. Some analysts say the killings will add pressure (Bloomberg) for the White House to speed up the end of the already decade-long mission, currently set for 2014.
Shortly after exit polls from a number states showed that the economy and jobs were Republican voters’ biggest concerns, the Labor Department said Friday 233,000 private sector jobs added in February, marking twenty-four months straight of private sector job growth. Since the beginning of December, the United States has added 734,000 jobs (AP).
Campaigning in Kansas Saturday, Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul shrugged off the jobs report (The Hill), saying that an unemployment rate stuck above 8 percent shows the economy is not in recovery and the stimulus has been a failure. Current GOP front-runner Mitt Romney also responded to the report by pointing out the unemployment rate and attacking the results of stimulus.
Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum was quick to tie job creation and energy together on a Meet the Press (NBC) appearance, saying he would speed along economic recovery and create jobs by building the Keystone pipeline and approving drilling projects offshore in and Alaska. Santorum said there is a lot that could be done to immediately turn around the economy “and see real dynamic growth and sustainable growth.” He said if elected he would repeal regulations that impede domestic energy production.
— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor