UPDATE, 4:13 p.m.:
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann has finally issued a statement on the apparent ouster of Libya’s Muammer Qaddafi, restating her opposition to President Barack Obama’s intervention.
Here’s her statement:
“I opposed U.S. military involvement in Libya and I am hopeful that our intervention there is about to end. I also hope the progress of events in Libya will ultimately lead to a government that honours the rule of law, respects the people of Libya and their yearning for freedom, and one that will be a good partner to the United States and the international community.”
Bachmann has frequently criticised President Obama’s policies in Libya, which she has warned could “empower Al Qaeda in North Africa.” In a June CNN debate, she also accused the president of “leading from behind” by allowing NATO to lead the intervention.
ORIGINAL POST, 2:08 p.m.:
Now that the Libyan rebels have taken control of Tripoli and Muammer Qaddafi is on the verge of defeat, 2012 Republican presidential candidates — all of whom have criticised Obama’s intervention in Libya — are having trouble responding to what looks like a U.S. victory.
So far, only three candidates have released a statement on the situation in Libya*:
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who supported military intervention in Libya, responded to Qaddafi’s impending fall by calling on the new rebel government to extradite the Lockerbie bomber.
“The world is about to be rid of Muammar el-Qaddafi, the brutal tyrant who terrorized the Libyan people,” Romney said in a statement this morning. It is my hope that Libya will now move toward a representative form of government that supports freedom, human rights, and the rule of law. As a first step, I call on this new government to arrest and extradite the mastermind behind the bombing of Pan Am 103, Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, so justice can finally be done.”
Romney has previously argued that the U.S. intervention in Libya was not forceful enough to lead to Qaddafi’s ouster. His statement today manages to avoid walking back his earlier criticisms by shifting the emphasis Qaddafi’s demise — and Obama’s apparent victory — to what will happen now that the country is under new leadership.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman faced an even bigger challenge, after coming out all summer as vocal opponent of the intervention. The former U.S. Ambassador to China told Good Morning America in May that he “would have chosen from the beginning not to intervene in Libya,” and later told Esquire that “we just can’t afford it.”
Huntsman struck a more conciliatory tone today, but managed to avoid directly praising the U.S. military action.
“The impending fall of Colonel Gaddafi is one chapter in the developing story of a nation in turmoil,” Huntsman said in a statement today. “Gaddafi has been a longtime opponent of freedom, and I am hopeful — as the whole world should be — that his defeat is a step toward openness, democracy and human rights for a people who greatly deserve it.”
Huntsman has been a, telling Esquire that the U.S. “just couldn’t afford it.”
U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, another vocal opponent of Obama’s Libyan policies, has not yet released a statement on the situation in Libya. Her campaign did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
Texas Gov. Rick Perry‘s statement was the most laudatory, praising the fall of Qaddafi as a historic moment for the war on terror. Perry, who entered the race earlier this month, had not yet staked out a position on the intervention before the tables turned on Qaddafi this weekend.
“The crumbling of Muammar Ghadafi’s reign, a violent, repressive dictatorship with a history of terrorism, is cause for cautious celebration,” Perry said today. “The lasting impact of events in Libya will depend on ensuring rebel factions form a unified, civil government that guarantees personal freedoms, and builds a new relationship with the West where we are allies instead of adversaries.”
None of other 2012 GOP presidential candidates have released a statement on the situation in Libya. We will be back with any updates.
*Sidenote: All three campaigns that released a statement today spell Qaddafi’s name differently (h/t Jackie Kucinich)