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Missouri CD 4 candidates decry Afghanistan attacks but differ on response

Attacks at the Kabul Airport in Afghanistan left 13 American service members dead Thursday, according to the Pentagon, with further threats being monitored as the U.S. assists with evacuation efforts.

The attacks followed the announcement the U.S. would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31 and the Taliban’s subsequent occupation of Kabul. Many across the nation have been critical of President Joe Biden in the aftermath, including candidates for Missouri’s fourth congressional district

Kalena Bruce, a conservative cattle farmer who recently jumped into the race, called for Biden to resign amid the controversy Thursday. 

“Today’s tragic and unnecessary loss of life solidifies what many of us already knew, that Joe Biden is unfit and incapable to serve as commander in chief. He should resign immediately before more innocent lives are lost due to his incompetence. If he is unwilling, congress must act and remove him from office,” Bruce said in a statement. “Biden’s strategy of retreat made us less safe, emboldened our enemies, and failed our allies. Now more than ever we need leaders who will stand up and defend our military, and make Americans safe again.”

Fellow CD 4 contender and veteran Ryan Johnson took to social media earlier this week to call for Biden’s resignation, decrying the administration and the situation as a whole. He renewed his opposition to the administration following Thursday’s attacks, this time floating the idea of impeachment as well. 

“With the death of our servicemen at the hands of terrorists and the unmitigated disaster that is Afghanistan, the [president] must step down or be impeached now,” he said. 

Taylor Burks, another veteran and Republican contender, echoed their criticism of Biden but held U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin culpable for the attacks. 

“I’d love if we had a different President, but [Vice President Kamala] Harris would be no different,” Burks said. “Lloyd Austin needs to resign! He was the one who told the world America is not able to evacuate Americans and left our service members vulnerable to these attacks!”

A representative for Rep. Sara Walsh, who is preparing for her husband’s upcoming funeral, was not immediately available for comment. 

Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, a possible contender for the seat, also decried the negative effects of the new administration’s move.

“The ongoing ramifications of Biden’s terrible Afghanistan exit are going to be significant. I fear this is only the beginning,” Rowden said. “Very sad, and very avoidable.”

Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, who currently holds the seat, called for Biden’s resignation earlier this week.

Other Missouri leaders have weighed in on the issue as well. U.S. Senator Josh Hawley called for Biden’s resignation, while Senator Roy Blunt said the administration should focus its efforts on evacuating Americans and allies. 

Gov. Mike Parson said the handling of the situation was “simply shameful.”

Former President Donald Trump, who has also been critical of Biden’s handling of the withdrawal, recently said his own administration had planned to do the same by May 1 of this year. His administration initiated the withdrawal negotiations.

Biden defended his decision to withdraw troops Thursday evening, telling reporters he had “never been of the view that we should be sacrificing American lives to try to establish a democratic government in Afghanistan, a country that has never once in its entire history been a united country.”