October 23rd, 2012

Sen. Portman: Romney has always said Afghanistan withdrawal date shouldn’t be announced; O’Brien: “It was just publicly announced”

CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien asks Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) if it is problematic that Mitt Romney frequently agreed with President Obama on policy at the third and final debate and whether or not Romney’s positions have been contradictory, including announcing a timeline on withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

Sen. Portman says, “I thought when Governor Romney [agreed with President Obama], it was refreshing to a lot of undecided voters who are tired of the attacks back and forth and the politics. Look, when Governor Romney thought the President was right, he said so. He also made it clear, by the way, that although he supported the drone attacks, he supported going after Bin Laden that that was not sufficient. And that’s when he said we can not kill our way out of these problems. We need to provide a vision and strategy for the future that deals with the underlying problems here of Islamic extremism and the spread of it.”

O’Brien, asks, “Previously, I think a number of times, he said a withdrawal date is wrong, ‘do not name a withdrawal date.’ Isn’t that a contradiction to now say, 2014, end of 2014?”

Portman answers, “Well, he’s always said that it shouldn’t be publicly announced because it helps our enemies… –”

“It was just publicly announced,” O’Brien interjects.

“Well, no,” Portman replies. “He thinks we ought to get out by 2014. The question is how you communicate it. And, frankly, whether you listen to the commanders on the ground as to how you get there. He talked about that, as well.”

Starting Point with Soledad O’Brien airs weekday mornings from 7-9am ET on CNN.