Newt Gingrich says his fellow White House hopefuls should talk to Gen. David Petraeus and formulate their Afghanistan stances based on what he says. USA Today's Jackie Kucinich reports on a Gingrich appearance at the National Press Club:
"I wouldn't try at the moment to second guess General Petraeus. I think he has some sense of what he's doing, he is on the ground and he has a pretty good track record," Gingrich told reporters. "I'd say to any potential candidates, it's useful to talk to David and get a sense of what his thinking is and why."
A conversation with the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan would likely be helpful to anyone looking to understand the war, but Petraeus would probably want to avoid appearing to spend too much time briefing the field of his current boss's prospective adversaries, particularly given past murmurs about his own possible future in politics.
Last year we heard minor speculative buzz that Petraeus, a registered Republican, harbored political ambitions and could run for president. As Jeffrey Goldberg pointed out last April, Petraeus had hit the conservative lecture trail with zeal. He went to New Hampshire for a speech, and Marc Ambinder reminded us that, well, Petraeus lives there.
Petraeus appeared on Capitol Hill this week and told the Senate Armed Services Committee that gains in Afghanistan are "fragile and reversible" but that Afghan forces are still on pace to assume control of select areas this spring. No one on the committee is thought to be running in 2012.