Since March 7, 2010, roughly three months before he announced his candidacy for president, Mitt Romney has avoided appearances on Sunday morning political shows. That is, until he ended the drought on this week’s edition of “Fox News Sunday.”
Romney gave wide-ranging interview to host Chris Wallace, including discussing his feelings about the Iraq war, which formally came to an end last week. Romney said given what American leaders knew at the time, the decision to invade Iraq and depose Saddam Hussein was the right decision.
“Oh, boy, that’s a big question,” Romney said. “And going back and trying to say given what we know now, what will we have done? Would we have invaded or not? At the time, we didn’t have the knowledge that we have now. At the time, Saddam Hussein was hiding. He was not letting the inspectors from the United Nations into the various places that they wanted to go. The IAEA was blocked from going into the palaces and so forth. And the intelligence in our nation and other nations was that this tyrant had weapons of mass destruction. And in the light of that – that belief, we took action which was appropriate at the time.”
But Romney added that there were important lessons learned, particularly regarding the tactics used for the invasion.
“Lessons learned along the way – you know, I think our military would say a lot of lessons learned. We probably should have gone in, going in with a heavier footprint,” Romney said.
“I think there was a sense that when – when on the ship it said mission accomplished that the mission had been accomplished. Turns out it was just getting started and we had to pursue a surge very late in the process. The surge was successful and fortunately, we’ve now been able to pull our troops out.”
Romney also criticized President Obama for the way he handled America’s withdrawal from Iraq.
“We’re, of course, very happy to see our troops come out,” Romney said. “But I think you’re going to see another lesson learned. I think we’re going to find that this president by not putting in place a status of forces agreement with the Iraqi leadership has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way and we should have left 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 personnel there to help transition to the Iraqis’ own military capabilities. I’m very concerned in this setting. I hope it works out. But I’m concerned.”
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The former Massachusetts governor added that he would be very apprehensive about acting on any threats from Iran.
Later in the interview, Romney took on a war question from the Vietnam era. In 1967, his father George Romney changed directions on his support for the Vietnam War, claiming he had been brainwashed by military officials into supporting the war. The statement crippled his bid for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. But 44-years later, Mitt Romney said his father has been vindicated by history.
“Of course, I was probably 20 or 21″ at the time his father made the “brainwashed” comment, Romney said.
“I was serving my church at the time overseas and yet I got the newspaper clippings and so forth. Was it disappointing? Yeah. Years later when my dad was proven to be right in terms of the errors in Vietnam, my wife asked him, ‘You know, dad, how do you feel about the fact that you’re finally being vindicated in what you said?’ And he said, ‘You know, I never look back. I only look forward.’ He’s quite a guy.”