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(This is the third part of a series profiling the potential running mates of GOP candidate Mitt Romney this election. Read Part I to learn about the possibility of rumored favorite Ohio Sen. Rob Portman filling the role and his positions on the most pressing issues of the day. Read Part II to learn about prospective VP picks Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.)

The political world is abuzz with speculation about whether Mitt Romney plans to choose CIA Director David Petraeus to be his vice-presidential running mate on the GOP ticket – but Petraeus’ positions on a variety of issues could upset conservatives if he is indeed selected for the slot.

The retired Army four-star general, who has been lionized by many Republicans, led the charge to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the military – more than a year before the Obama administration repealed the armed forces’ “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.

In March 2010, Petraeus declared “the time has come” for the military to reconsider the rule. In the same month, Petraeus told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria he served with homosexuals in the CIA and didn’t believe troops would have difficulty adjusting to working with openly homosexual service members.

He has expressed support for Obama’s calls for shutting down Guantanamo Bay prison and condemned American use of interrogation strategies such as waterboarding.  

Also, Petraeus testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee, saying the perception of U.S. favoritism toward Israel has fomented anti-Americanism. He told the committee, “enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in the area of responsibility.

“Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples [in the region].”

Petraeus’ remarks came in March 2010, after a week of stressed U.S.-Israel relations following Israel’s announcement of plans to build 1,600 homes in East Jerusalem.

His critics have blasted him for being soft on crime, reconciling with the Taliban and supporting Sunni militias in Iraq’s Sunni Awakening.

“I think that you have to have at least an open mind about this because this is historically the way counterinsurgency efforts ultimately have been concluded,” he told CBS News’ Katie Couric.

Asked what the U.S. and Afghanistan have to offer the Taliban, he replied, “They can live is No. 1. No. 2, perhaps they could return to their country of origin. A lot of them are tired of, again, living their life on the run, of being pursued, of living outside the country and so forth. And so I think that those are all fairly powerful incentives for them.”

On the issue of Iran going nuclear, Petraeus told “Meet the Press” on Feb. 21, 2010, that he believes Iran is “a ways” away from obtaining a nuclear weapon and agrees with continuing the “pressure track” the Obama administration is now on.

Petraeus’ name is also on the membership roster of the Council on Foreign Relations, a U.S. foreign-policy think tank that, critics say, promotes world government.

Many of Petraeus’ views on fiscal policy and social issues are unknown. Several pundits have questioned his political positions. Much like retired four-star Army Gen. Colin Powell, who served under President W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, Petraeus is often seen as a moderate who sometimes supports centrist or Democrat-backed causes.

A 2008 report in the New Yorker stated, “Petraeus is registered to vote as a Republican in New Hampshire – he once described himself to a friend as a northeastern Republican, in the tradition of Nelson Rockefeller – but he said that around 2002, after he became a two-star general, he stopped voting.”

President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus at the White House on April 28, 2011. Also visible are Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Robert Gates (official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

But Max Fisher, associate editor at The Atlantic, argued in 2010 that Petraeus has “big-government” views.

Worst of all, he’s a big-government liberal: His strategy in Iraq relied on numerous population-centric strategies that are called counterinsurgency when deployed inside a war zone but, if implemented in the U.S., would be called social welfare programs on the scale of FDR’s Works Progress Administration or Johnson’s Great Society. Petraeus uses government resources to put unemployed locals to work on massive infrastructure projects, he works hard to secure fair political representation for aggrieved minorities, and he builds strong, public social services like hospitals and schools. President Reagan’s edict, “government is not the solution to our problems; government is the problem,” doesn’t seem to hold for Petraeus in Iraq. Would it hold for Petraeus in Washington?

Petraeus’ wife, Holly, works in the Obama administration as the assistant director for servicemember affairs at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the agency founded as a part of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Speculation about Petraeus as a possible choice for Romney’s VP running mate was first reported Aug. 7 on the Drudge Report.

“President Obama whispered to a top fundraiser this week that he believes GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney wants to name Gen. David Petraeus to the VP slot!” Matt Drudge wrote. “… Romney is believed to have secretly met with the four-star general in New Hampshire.

“The pick could be a shrewd Romney choice. A cross-party pull. The Obama administration hailed Petraeus as one of history’s greatest military strategists.”

However, during the White House Press Briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney denied that President Obama privately told a top fundraiser that Romney was considering the retired Army general.

“I can say with absolute confidence, such an assertion has never been uttered by the president,” Carney said.

Petraeus has repeatedly insisted he has no political ambitions.

Today, CIA spokesman Preston Golson said, “Director Petraeus feels very privileged to be able to continue to serve our country in his current position, and as he has stated clearly numerous times before, he will not seek elected office.”

Meanwhile, Romney has remained silent on the subject of his VP choice.

“I’m a week closer than I was a week ago,” he told Fox News. “I am not going to give you anything on the VP front.”

(This is the third part of a series profiling the potential running mates of GOP candidate Mitt Romney this election. Read Part I to learn about the possibility of rumored favorite Ohio Sen. Rob Portman filling the role and his positions on the most pressing issues of the day. Read Part II to learn about prospective VP picks Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.)

 

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