Huntsman Criticizes Obama on Afghanistan, Wants 'More Aggressive' Troop Reduction

   on June 22 2011 11:39 AM
Jon Huntsman speaks at a rally after announcing his candidacy for the Republican U.S. presidential 2012 campaign in Exeter
Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman speaks at a rally after announcing his candidacy for the Republican U.S. presidential 2012 campaign in Exeter, New Hampshire June 21, 2011. Huntsman, President Barack Obama's former ambassador to China, entered his party's 2012 presidential race on Tuesday pledging to make the "hard decisions" to deal with America's debt. Reuters

Freshly-declared presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said Wednesday that President Barack Obama has been too timid in withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, distancing himself from his former employer.

Huntsman's remarks on NBC's Today Show come as Obama prepares to address the nation with his timetable for curtailing America's presence in Afghanistan. Huntsman, who formerly served Obama's foreign policy apparatus as the ambassador to China, said the president must act more swiftly to end the mission in Afghanistan.

I think that we can probably be more aggressive about withdrawing troops, Huntsman said. He said the resources committed to Afghanistan would be better spent on the faltering American economy.

What we need now is a healthy dose of nation-building here at home, he said, echoing a resolution by the U.S. Conference of Mayors sharply questioning the fact that we build bridges in Baghdad and Kandahar and not in Baltimore and Kansas City.

Huntsman redoubled the criticism on ABC's Good Morning America, noting that, when you look at one out of every six Defense Department dollars going in support of what we're doing in Afghanistan, I think over the next year, I think there is room to draw down more.

Both Huntsman and fellow GOP presidential nomination candidate Mitt Romney have expressed reservations about the scope of American involvement in Afghanistan, drawing the ire of Republican foreign policy stalwarts like U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

I wish that candidate Romney and all the others would sit down with General [David] Petraeus and understand how this counterinsurgency is working and succeeding, McCain said on ABC's This Week.

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