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Republicans criticize McChrystal comments but don't call for his firing

Republican leaders in the Senate are being careful with their words when asked about the fallout from Rolling Stone's profile of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, in which the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan disparaged members of the Obama administration. None of them is calling for McChrystal to resign.

"I'm personally going to wait and see what Gen. McChrystal has to say," Sen. John Kyl (R-Ariz.) told reporters. He declined to say whether, in his view, McChrystal's comments had violated the code of conduct: "I'm not going to get into any of that."

Asked about the story at his weekly news conference, Sen. Mitch McConnell characterized it as a diversion.

"I hope we can keep our eye on the ball here, and win in Afghanistan and not get diverted off of that on to these other issues that seem to have developed," said McConnell. "This is a war that, today, enjoys pretty broad bipartisan support." He parried a follow-up question from CNN's Dana Bash, asking whether he was suggesting that he wanted McChrystal to keep his job: "I'm suggesting that no matter how many ways you ask the question, I'm going to give you the same answer."

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said that McChrystal erred in speaking so casually to Rolling Stone, and he agreed with the "distraction" argument.

"The main thing right now is that we not get distracted from the mission at hand, which is to win the war in Afghanistan," Thune said. "I just think that the comments that he made in the story, obviously, I'm sure he regrets, and they were inappropriate in terms of the chain of command."

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) declined to offer his own take on the magazine interview. "My opinion is that this is solely a matter for the commander-in-chief to decide," Alexander said. Asked if he thought McChrystal's comments were inappropriate, Alexander repeated himself: "I'm going to let the commander-in-chief make that decision."

By David Weigel  |  June 22, 2010; 3:27 PM ET
Categories:  Foreign Policy  
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