President Biden’s handling of the evacuation efforts in Afghanistan is a “political disaster” that could cost Democrats in the midterm elections, a former top adviser to both Hillary and Bill Clinton told told Fox News in an interview.
“I think there’s no question this is an actual and political disaster for President Biden,” Mark Penn said. “Of course, we don’t know the long-term effects yet because the events are still evolving as we speak.”
“He’s going to have to show extreme competence to come back from this,” Penn continued.
Biden has faced widespread and bipartisan criticism for his handling of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ensuing effort to evacuate Americans and Afghan allies. Penn warned this could also lead to significant problems for Democratic politicians in next year’s midterm elections.
MORE THAN 4,400 AMERICANS EVACUATED FROM AFGHANISTAN, PENTAGON SAYS: LIVE UPDATES
“He’s going to have to restore his credibility here,” Penn told Fox News. “He’s got some very big challenges, or he’s going to face some serious problems in the midterms.”
Biden’s overall job approval has dropped in the wake of the Afghanistan debacle. Just 25% of adults polled approve of his handling of the situation, a recent NBC News poll shows.
“The fact that President Biden has one item here that’s in the 20s is not yet representative of his entire job, which was really close to 60% [approval] two months ago,” Penn, who is also a veteran pollster, told Fox News. He added that Biden’s job rating has “been falling as Covid has been rising, and now he’s 50% or below in most polls.”
“Again, events are still evolving,” Penn added. “We don’t know whether he’s going to come back from this or fall further.”
Only 41% of Americans approve of Biden’s job performance while 55% disapprove, according to a USA Today/Suffolk University poll published Tuesday. Biden remains strong among Democrats with an 87% overall approval rating, but maintains low support among crucial independent voters at 32%.
ISIS threats have also loomed large in Afghanistan. On Tuesday, Pentagon officials told lawmakers that the terrorist group’s threats targeting airport gates and aircraft jeopardize the evacuation, Politico reported.
“Clearly the administration has sent conflicting messages on whether or not ISIS is being revived,” Penn told Fox News. “The administration says no, some of the others in the administration say yes, leaked stories say yes.”
“Look, we don’t know, we can’t get ahead of events but clearly reestablishing a government run by those people who, in fact, harbored the terrorists from 9/11 is a dangerous proposition,” he continued.
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Penn also said the unfolding events would make Americans feel less secure.
“I can tell you that the public will feel less secure with the Taliban back in office unless there’s real evidence that the Taliban have forsaken terrorism, and so far, we haven’t seen that,” Penn told Fox News.
U.S. troops are already leaving Afghanistan as Biden sticks to his Aug. 31 deadline. Lawmakers have urged an extension to ensure that every American gets out of the country.