(NEW YORK) -- GOP presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty is trying to position himself as the party's biggest defender of Israel as his campaign for the nomination appears to be stagnating.
The former Minnesota governor, one of the first Republicans to declare his candidacy for the White House, told the Council on Foreign Relations Tuesday that President Obama has bumbled U.S. Mideast policy by seeming wishy-washy on both support for Israel and emerging Arab democracies.
Pawlenty claimed that the president's policies are "anti-Israel" and that he has turned his back on the Jewish state at critical times during the failing peace process with the Palestinians.
Then, focusing his criticism on GOP rivals, Pawlenty went on to say, "America already has one political party devoted to decline, retrenchment and withdrawal. It does not need a second one."
The clear implication was that Pawlenty, compared to other candidates, is best suited to deliver "decisive, clear-eyed leadership that is responsive to this historical moment of change in ways that are consistent with our deepest principles and safeguards our vital interests."
Pawlenty said Republicans can't afford to be isolationists with so much at stake in Afghanistan and other overseas hot spots.
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