Anchoring her eponymous MSNBC program today, Andrea Mitchell defended President Barack Obama's position on Libya against criticism from Republican presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.
"I'm not sure what Tim Pawlenty would like the president to do," snickered NBC's chief foreign affairs correspondent, immediately after playing a clip of the former Minnesota governor saying exactly what he wished Obama had done differently in Libya.
[Video embedded after the page break.]
Pawlenty suggested on "Morning Joe" today that the commander-in-chief should not have "subordinated our options to the United Nations," adding, " I would have kept the decision-making fully in our lap so that if you say Gadhafi must go, you don't want to let him sit there for six months or a year and continue this situation that we have."
"What more could be done to get Gadhafi out?" queried an unsatisfied Mitchell.
Underscoring Pawlenty's point that the president is not taking the lead on Libya and could be doing more, NBC's Richard Engel responded to Mitchell's question about the so-called Russian initiative with a healthy dose of skepticism.
"Well people here don't know much about his Russia initiative," reported Engel. "It sounds fairly vague at this point...the details aren't very clear."
By her own correspondent's admission, most Libyans know almost nothing about the "fairly vague" Russian-led campaign that Mitchell suggested "could be the ticket" to resolving the Libyan conflict. But apparently there's nothing else Obama can do.
A transcript of the relevant portions of the segment can be found below:
Andrea Mitchell Reports
May 27, 2011
1:32 p.m. EDT
ANDREA MITCHELL: Republican presidential hopeful Tim Pawlenty today on Morning Joe.
TIM PAWLENTY, GOP presidential candidate: The United Nations has now tied his hands through this resolution that limits his options to make Gadhafi go very quickly or very easily. I would have never subordinated our options to the United Nations. I would have kept the decision-making fully in our lap so that if you say Gadhafi must go, you don't want to let him sit there for six months or a year and continue this situation that we have.
MITCHELL: Richard Engel is NBC's chief foreign correspondent and is live for us in Tripoli. Richard, I thought that would be an interesting context for you there in the field. I'm not sure what Tim Pawlenty would like the president to do. Boots on the ground? That doesn't seem like a popular position. What more could be done to get Gadhafi out? And whether this new Russian initiative could be the ticket?
RICHARD ENGEL, NBC chief foreign correspondent: Well people here don't know much about his Russia initiative. It sounds fairly vague at this point. Russia says it's in contact with members of the Libyan regime to work out a political solution perhaps with Gadhafi stepping down, leaving the country. The details aren't very clear.
--Alex Fitzsimmons is a News Analysis intern at the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.