In an interview today with Neil Cavuto, Mitt Romney took a page from the Obama administration’s playbook when responding to a question about troop withdrawal.
Romney tried to avoid being pinned down on his position whether or not the United States should leave Afghanistan early in the wake of the mass shooting of Afghan civilians, and he used the phrase “kinetic activity” to do so.
“The actions of a deranged person are not going to shape American foreign policy," Romney said. "That being said, we should on a regular basis reassess what's happening in Afghanistan and any place for that matter where we have kinetic activity going on. And assess what's the right course forward, are we making progress, are we not, what are the prospects for success in our mission and that's something I would continue to do on a regular basis."
President Obama’s administration took heat last March when Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes used this terminology to define US military action in Libya while speaking to the press on Air Force One: "I think what we are doing is enforcing a resolution that has a very clear set of goals, which is protecting the Libyan people, averting a humanitarian crisis, and setting up a no-fly zone. Obviously that involves kinetic military action, particularly on the front end."
Many critics lambasted the use of "kinetic activity" as intentionally misleading.
Romney's "Obamaspeak" may not the only problem he could face from this response. Romney has used a hard line of opposition to the withdrawal from Afghanistan over the past months, calling it “naive and misguided.” This seeming about-face gives fodder to critics who label him a flip-flopper.
While Romney didn't take a definitive position, Republican rival Newt Gingrich spoke out this week on Fox News Sunday saying the United States should reassess its role in Afghanistan.
"I think it's very likely that we have lost, tragically lost, the lives and suffered injuries to a considerable number of young Americans on a mission that we’re going to discover is not doable," Gingrich said.
Additionally, Santorum echoed the message of reassessment in Alabama today telling the press that he is “open to leaving Afghanistan earlier.”
“It became incredibly more difficult when the president didn't commit the resources or the time to make that happen. And so my feeling is, if the president's not gonna commit to success, then I would certainly be open to leaving Afghanistan earlier."