Potential Republican presidential candidate Gov. Haley Barbour is stepping up criticism of President Barack Obama's actions in Libya, saying Obama hasn't shown leadership but is treating the U.S. as "one of the boys" on the international scene.
"Since World War II, the world has looked to America for leadership. But we haven't provided leadership in this administration," Barbour, the Mississippi governor, said Thursday on the Gallo Show on Jackson-based WFMN radio.
"In fact, the Obama administration's position has been to say, 'You know, we're just one of the boys. We're not going to try to be the leader,'" Barbour said. "And we see that when you don't have strong leadership from the strongest country in the world, then everybody else scatters out and breaks up."
Barbour told reporters Tuesday in Nevada that Obama "dithered a long time" before taking military action in Libya. But Barbour then said he wanted to be careful about critiquing the administration's moves during a U.S. military action.
Barbour is laying the groundwork for a possible presidential run by making appearances during the past two weeks in Illinois, California, Iowa and Nevada. He's scheduled to appear Friday and Saturday in the early presidential caucus state of Iowa. His political action committee said Thursday that Barbour also will make several stops Sunday and Monday in New Hampshire.
Barbour has said it will be at least April before he announces whether he's entering the GOP presidential primary. He says he's waiting for Mississippi lawmakers to finish their annual session, and some Democratic legislators say Barbour's frequent out-of-state travel is slowing down finishing the budget.
In the radio interview Thursday, Barbour also said the U.S. should be careful not to engage in nation-building in Libya or elsewhere. He questioned whether the U.S. needs as many troops as it has in Afghanistan.
"I'm not saying, 'Do this, do that,'" Barbour said. "What I am saying is we need to step back and take a look at what we're doing and see if we got the resources there. Is all that necessary for our mission to be accomplished?"