CINCINNATI — Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is praising President Barack Obama for showing political courage on Afghanistan.
The Georgia Republican said Wednesday that Obama's plan to send 30,000 extra troops to Afghanistan is the right step, and that Tuesday's speech at West Point showed the president was facing reality.
"If you are a liberal Democrat who won the nomination with the support of the anti-war left, this had to be one of the most difficult decisions he'll ever make," Gingrich said. "And he did what he felt was right for the country.
"I think he knew when he did it he was going to split his own party, and I think that took considerable courage on his part," he said.
But Gingrich predicts that Obama will have trouble pulling out troops in 2011, and that there will still be U.S. troops both in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2012.
Gingrich spoke to reporters before leading a town hall meeting on job creation on the eve of the president's job forum Thursday in Washington. Hundreds turned out at a downtown hotel to hear Gingrich promote cutting taxes and reducing government to stimulate job creation.
Bob Mlinar, who owns a Cincinnati beverage drive-through with five employees, said he wanted less government interference with small businesses.
"That's what's frustrating," Mlinar said.
Gingrich told his audience that people have gone too long without facing the truth by running up debt and buying homes they can't afford.
"It all starts with being honest," he said.
His American Solutions group billed the session as "the real jobs summit," and Gingrich will follow it with another on Thursday in Jackson, Miss. Considered a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, Gingrich said he plans to crisscross the country next year holding similar forums.