Santorum Hits Obama on Afghanistan Withdrawal Timeline

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss.) -- As he mingled with the Mississippi breakfast crowd, Rick Santorum said the president’s timeline in Afghanistan “has made a very winnable operation very, very difficult.”

“It continues to unravel because the president has given something to the enemy that we should have been able to deny them, which is hope,” Santorum said, referring to the withdrawal timeline, which would have American troops out of Afghanistan by 2014. “But when the president put a timeline in place, the rules of engagement that he has…he’s made this a very difficult mission, as we see it getting more and more difficult as we get closer to that timeline.”

Santorum did not say how the operation would be “winnable” without a timeline in place. The timeline of 2014 was originally put into place by NATO leaders in November of 2010.

On Saturday, an Army staff sergeant killed 16 civilians, including nine children in Southern Afghanistan.

The former Pennsylvania senator, who is locked in a three-way tie in both Mississippi and Alabama, according to several polls, accused the president of “putt[ing] political timelines in place” and said he’s “not focused on trying to win the war,” in order to “pacify” his “anti-war base.”

“What he’s done is the worst possible thing, put the men and women in uniform in harm’s way without a real clear mission that could be accomplished,” Santorum told reporters after shaking hands and greeting patrons at McElroy’s on the Bayou.

He called Sunday’s shootings “horrific” and “very tragic,” and called the soldier who allegedly murdered the civilians “someone who obviously lost it,” and said he should be “brought to justice quickly.”

“You’ve got to obviously do the reviews to find out what happened,” Santorum said. “Whether there was a pattern here. All those things are going to have to be reviewed and they should be.”

Santorum was greeted by applause and cheers when he and his wife Karen walked into the restaurant and greeted customers and sat down to breakfast with patrons.

“I don’t consider this an away game, this is home for me just like everywhere I go in this country because we got Americans who love this country who want to see a government put back in our bounds and they want the opportunity to be free and be able to raise their families without Washington interfering…that’s why I feel like every state has been a home game for me,” Santorum said.

The candidate continues to campaign in Mississippi on Monday before hitting stops in Alabama. Both states vote Tuesday, along with Hawaii, where his eldest daughter Elizabeth is campaigning for him.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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