Democrat Val Demings, who is running for U.S. Senate in Florida, is continuing to avoid criticizing the Biden administration’s disastrous military withdrawal from Afghanistan while attacking incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) for his active demands for accountability.
Demings was asked Wednesday during a local television appearance if she thought anything “should have been done differently” after watching President Joe Biden’s speech about leaving Afghanistan after 20 years, a hasty exit that came after a fast-paced Taliban takeover of the country two weeks ago and deadly bombings last Thursday.
Demings replied that “war is ugly; it’s ugly going in and it’s ugly going out” and that there would be “plenty of time” to answer the question of what could have been done differently later.
“We will have plenty of time to receive additional briefings, hold hearings, do after-action reports, understand this war from beginning until end, but now I think it’s so important that we welcome our men and women of the military home,” said Demings, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee.
Demings last Thursday, after the bombings in Kabul killed more than 100 people including 13 U.S. servicemembers, accused her opponent Rubio of playing “Monday morning quarterback.”
“So I know it’s tempting to want to criticize and Monday morning quarterback when you’re sitting in your nice office, and there will be plenty of time,” Demings said when asked about Rubio’s criticisms of the Biden administration. “And we should as a nation ask questions, critique, do after-action reports so we can clearly understand what has gone on the last 20 years, including the evacuation, but now is not the time.”
Rubio, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has, by contrast, been sharply critical of many aspects of the Biden administration’s withdrawal, a process that has received bipartisan criticism and caused the president’s approval ratings to plummet.
On Friday, the senator condemned Biden in an open letter for providing a list of names of American citizen and Afghan allies stranded in Afghanistan to the Taliban. “Sharing such a list provided the Taliban a powerful tool in their ongoing ‘revenge killings’ of those who stood with the United States, and its mission in Afghanistan,” he wrote, adding a list of demands for answers from Biden about the list.
Last Wednesday, before the deadly bombings occurred, Rubio blasted Biden for creating an “arbitrary” withdrawal deadline — one that Biden initially set for the symbolic date of September 11 but then pushed ahead to August 31 — and blindly praising the evacuation as “successful”:
Joe Biden has built this entire withdrawal around an arbitrary, self-imposed August 31 deadline. He should worry less about deadlines and more about the Americans and allies who are desperate for us to follow through on our commitment to get them to safety. pic.twitter.com/U0xqHNG3HW
— Team Marco (@TeamMarco) August 25, 2021
Rubio on August 18 also lead several senators in writing a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing what he described as “grave concern” over the billions of dollars in U.S. military equipment left in Taliban hands in Afghanistan, requesting details about the equipment left behind and demanding to know what efforts the administration had underway to recapture or destroy the equipment.
Last November, the Florida Republican wrote an op-ed in the National Review that warned of the exact chain of events that played out in Afghanistan this month.
“The threats facing our nation and our allies from those who wish to do us harm are real. If we prematurely pull our U.S. forces out from Afghanistan — or if we conduct the process too quickly — we risk putting our servicemembers in harm’s way, and the actual Afghan government will collapse in short order,” he wrote. “They are already struggling to hold on as it is, given the threat and challenge from the Taliban.”
Write to Ashley Oliver at email@example.com.