Senate GOP candidates slam Warnock on Afghanistan crisis

Republican U.S. Senate contenders moved to turn the chaotic fall of Afghanistan into opportunity by tying Democratic incumbent Raphael Warnock to President Joe Biden’s handling of the growing crisis.

Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and military veteran Latham Saddler both pressured Warnock to call for the resignation of the nation’s top military officials following the Taliban’s swift takeover of Afghanistan. And Black debuted a radio ad Thursday accusing Warnock of “failing to keep Americans safe.”

“I was in high school when our embassy in Saigon fell,” he said in the ad. “On Sunday, America’s embassy in Afghanistan was evacuated. And this is Saigon 2.0.”

A third contender, U.S. Air Force veteran Kelvin King, has also said he’d be “calling the administration out” for its swift withdrawal of U.S. troops.

The attacks on Warnock, who took office in January, offer a window into a national GOP position forming against Biden and his Democratic allies, as Republicans race to try to pin the blame on their counterparts for the chaotic end to the nation’s longest war.

Like many other Democrats, Warnock has avoided criticizing the Biden administration while also not defending the president’s military strategy. Instead, he’s focused mostly on the unfolding humanitarian crisis as thousands of U.S. citizens and many more Afghan allies remain stranded in the country.

“We’ve been in a 20-year endless war. Like most Americans and most Georgians, I think these endless wars have not served us well,” Warnock said Thursday at an Atlanta Press Club event, in response to a question inviting him to rate Biden’s response.

“As we move forward, there will be plenty of time to talk about the process of the exit,” Warnock said. “But right now we’ve got to focus on the people who are on the ground: American citizens and Afghan allies who are there helping us. We’ve got to get them out safely.”

Many Senate Republican incumbents backed the Trump administration’s decision last year to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, praising the then-president for saying “it’s time for somebody else to do that work.”

Democrats charge that “America First” Republicans are attempting a policy reversal by blaming the administration on a pullout many in the GOP once backed. And Biden has defended the withdrawal as a tough but necessary decision.

“I’m now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan,” he said. “I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”

Here’s the text of Black’s radio ad:

This is Gary Black, candidate for the U.S. Senate. I was in high school when our embassy in Saigon fell. On Sunday, America's embassy in Afghanistan was evacuated. And this is Saigon 2.0.

The Biden administration's weakness has spread fear and uncertainty – as the Taliban reestablish a safe haven for terrorists.

I challenge my opponent, Sen. Raphael Warnock – who said not a word as this crisis unfolded – to join me in calling for:

The evacuation of American allies marked for brutality or execution by the Taliban, especially women and girls; the firing of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs for this utter failure; and for a full investigation to hold those responsible accountable.

Joe Biden and the Democrats like Sen. Warnock are failing to keep Americans safe. I'm Gary Black, I'm running for the U.S. Senate, and I approved this message because what America and the world desperately need right now is leadership.

- Gary Black radio ad