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President Obama on Libya Mission: ‘Countless Lives Have Been Saved’

Updated 9:02 p.m. | Watch the president’s full remarks:


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Here are responses to President Obama’s speech from two Republican senators, starting with 2008 campaign rival John McCain:

I welcome the President’s clarity that the U.S. goal is for Qaddafi to leave power. But an equal amount of clarity is still required on how we will accomplish that goal. U.S. and coalition airpower has decisively reversed Qaddafi’s momentum, but the potential for a long and bloody stalemate is still far too high.

Here’s another response from Sen. John Cornyn of Texas:

When our men and women in uniform are sent into harm’s way, Americans and troops deserve a clear mission from our commander-in-chief, not a speech nine days late. President Obama failed to explain why he unilaterally took our nation to war without bothering to make the case to the U.S. Congress. And now he’s splitting the difference — telling us Gaddafi must go, but refusing to do what it takes to remove him. The American people, members of Congress, and our service members deserve more than this overture. I will most certainly keep our American troops in my thoughts and prayers, and I plan to raise my concerns during this week’s Armed Services Committee hearings.

Updated 8:07 p.m. | Here is a transcript of the president’s full remarks. We’ll have the video of the speech posted shortly.

Original post | At 7:30 p.m. ET Monday, President Obama will speak at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C., to address the American people and answer lingering questions about the U.S. role in the coalition military mission in Libya.

In Monday’s Morning Line, the NewsHour’s David Chalian and Terence Burlij previewed the speech and assessed what challenges President Obama faces in undertaking another military mission while the U.S. continues to fight wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:

[T]he president will face the challenge of explaining to the American people why we are engaged in an active military mission in a country that does not represent a vital national security interest to the United States. That’s no easy sell, but expect President Obama to address that concern through the larger picture of an international coalition effort.

On Monday’s Political Checklist, senior correspondent Gwen Ifill said the president needs to finally answer some questions on Libya for both political allies and enemies:

The administration thinks they’ve answered this question. They think they’ve made the humanitarian case, but even among the most sympathetic people, they don’t necessarily understand in the end why we’re there, how we get in, how we get out and why we would do this when we wouldn’t do it in other places.

In Friday’s political wrap, Washington Examiner chief political correspondent Byron York put the speech in some historical context:

[P]ressure has been increasing, because it is traditional for a president, in a national address forum, to tell the nation what he is doing, why he is doing it, and how long he expects it to last.

Syndicated columnist Mark Shields added this:

[W]e’re not sure what the mission is. And that’s the president’s responsibility is to lay out what the mission exactly is, what it entails, what our commitment is, what the exit strategy is, how we will know the success.

Also, a pair of presidential advisers previewed what themes Mr. Obama would touch on Monday night.

Stay with us on The Rundown for video of the president’s speech and reactions. Check out the Morning Line on Tuesday for more reactions and analysis of the speech.

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