Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Thursday rejected the Bush administration’s vision of a decades-long U.S. troop presence in Iraq akin to South Korea and suggested a need for public benchmarks to gauge progress.
"Our objective would not be a Korea-type setting with 25-50,000 troops on a near permanent basis remaining in bases in Iraq," the former Massachusetts governor told the Associated Press.
"I think we would hope to turn Iraq security over to their own military and their own security forces, and if presence in the region is important for us than we have other options that are nearby," Romney said.
As I indicated earlier in the week, this is a political strategy with an eye on the general.
It also appears that some part of the "secret timetable" reemerged in this:
In a wide-ranging, hourlong interview with AP reporters and editors, Romney said the Bush administration would be wise to publicly disclose some goals for success in Iraq to restore public confidence. Benchmarks that would tip off adversaries, however, should remain private.
On a deeper level, it is unclear where this puts Romney on the spectrum. Legislative staffers for Clinton and Obama admit that "the dirty little secret" is that even the most aggressive withdrawal plans result in about 100k troops to do training, force protection, etc. It looks like Romney could be running to the left of Clinton and Obama on Iraq if he is not careful. Or, perhaps, if he is careful.