Speculation was rampant at a speech by Gen. David Petraeus on Wednesday in New Hampshire. He pretty much put that to rest. "I will not ever run for political office." And, "I have no plans to go to Iowa or visit there before 2012."
At a media availability before speaking as part of a four college tour, CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus did tell local reporters that his home is in New Hampshire and he considers it his home state, although he hasn't been to the state since 2006.
Asked by the Huffington Post what Party he has been affiliated with before, the General said, "I stopped voting in 2002. We are registered as Republicans. It is a small personal step I took on my own."
"I serve a Commander-In-Chief and give him the best military advice... and we support that policy at the end of the day."
Gen. Petraeus sought to clarify remarks he said were taken out of context by the blogosphere regarding Israel and Palestine. The items all related to whether Gen. Petraeus sent information to the White House and Congress saying that "there is a perception that the U.S. sides with Israel." While Gen. Petraeus notes that "I don't think that is disputable," he argued that reports of his communications with the White House and Congress had been "spun by the blogosphere" into suggesting he communicated that the U.S. relationship with Israel endangers the lives of U.S. soldiers. "There was a blog and all three items were wrong."
Asked about "don't ask, don't tell", Gen. Petraeus stated, "I think we should carry through with the Secretary of Defense review. My position is the time has come to consider if the change should be made. The single most important thing is uniform standards for all."
On Al Qaeda, Gen. Petraeus said, "It is a network. The leaders are in Western Pakistan. It has been diminished. We are concerned about Yemen, but even there there has been pressure. There is no question that Al Qaeda retains capability. It is a learning organization ... requiring enduring commitment." Earlier, Gen. Petraeus said that the threat presented "in cyberspace is more challenging. We need to have approval of cybercommand. Cyber is where the enemy recruits and organizes activities."
On Iraq, Gen Petraeus said "Iraqracy. This is Iraq's form of democracy." He said the country is stabilizing. "The real surge in Iraq was the surge in ideas... to promote reconciliation." Gen. Petraeus said the U.S. will continue advise and assist brigades but that by August, troops will go to 50,000 from the 96,000 troop range today.
"We had to show results. The Washington clock was ticking. The Baghdad clock sometimes seemed to be going in reverse."
On the Iraq elections: "Final results will be announced Friday. Extraordinary work by our young men and women and courageous Iraqi men and women." Petraeus noted that turnout was 62%. He also showed the dramatic reduction in violence from 220 episodes per day to under 20 per day.
Consistent with the President's policy, Petraeus advocated closing GITMO. "Gitmo has an image. The perceptions of it are harmful."
The crowd responded with a standing ovation. For a non-candidate in a state that has had visits from possible GOP contenders Rep. Mike Pence and Gov. Tim Pawlenty within a week, Gen. Petreaus had them at hello.