CNN's Phillips Questions GOP Candidates' Silence on Libya

On Tuesday morning, CNN's Kyra Phillips asked why the Republican presidential candidates have not been speaking out on foreign policy in Libya during the climactic battle in the country's capital between rebel and imperial forces. CNN had interviewed Republican candidate Jon Huntsman the night before, but had not yet asked him about the conflict in Libya, in the first of a two-part interview set to conclude Tuesday night.

"This week's battle in Libya, the first big chance for the GOP presidential hopefuls to show their foreign policy savvy," Phillips noted during the 10 a.m. hour of Newsroom. "Why haven't we heard from them?" she asked. Liberal CNN analyst Roland Martin subsequently hammered the Republicans as "wimps" for their silence.

CNN prime-time host Piers Morgan had hosted candidate Jon Huntsman on Monday, but had not yet asked him about Libya. The rest of the Huntsman interview is scheduled to air Tuesday night.

Analyst Roland Martin decried the GOP silence on Libya. "They know the actions the President took was the right action, but then you have the folks on the right who say, well, like Senator John McCain, he should have done something sooner," he remarked. "But then remember you also had the House Republicans who also wanted to pass a resolution saying you should not be taking any action in Libya, and so they don't want to say anything."

"That's called weakness," Martin added. "You want to be President? Say something. They are simply wimps."

National Review's Will Cain opposed Martin's comments, noting that the President himself has been vague on the details of the conflict in Libya, namely on the ultimate goal and the timeline for American forces to leave the country.

"I'll tell you the one thing they have said, though, is they said they wouldn't go into Libya in the first place," Cain said of the Republican candidates. "And that's not just backwards-looking. That informs how they would make decisions about Syria, the Congo, and every place else in the world that's under these same, similar situations.

A transcript of the segment, which aired on August 23 at 10:30 a.m. EDT, is as follows:

KYRA PHILLIPS: First question, guys. This week's battle in Libya, the first big chance for the GOP presidential hopefuls to show their foreign policy savvy, to say what they would do. Okay. Why haven't we heard from them? Roland?

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hmm, wimps! Because they are stuck between a rock and a hard place. They know the actions the President took was the right action, but then you have the folks on the right who say, well, like Senator John McCain, he should have done something sooner. But then remember you also had the House Republicans who also wanted to pass a resolution saying you should not be taking any action in Libya, and so they don't want to say anything. That's called weakness. You want to be President? Say something. They are simply wimps.

PHILLIPS: Will?

WILL CAIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Boy, Roland, you're going to die on your own words with that. You mean these Republican candidates haven't said what the goal is in Libya? They haven't said how long we'll stay? They haven't said when we'll get out and under what conditions we'll get out?

MARTIN: They have said nothing, Will.

CAIN: Which would make them very similar to the President of the United States of America.

MARTIN: They have said nothing.

CAIN: Isn't that interesting? I'll tell you the one thing they have said, though, is they said they wouldn't go into Libya in the first place. And that's not just backwards-looking. That informs how they would make decisions about Syria, the Congo, and every place else in the world that's under these same, similar situations.

Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro
Matt Hadro was a News Analyst for the Media Research Center's News Analysis Division from 2010 through early 2014