Obama Within Weeks of Afghan War Decision

White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod on "Face the Nation."
White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod on "Face the Nation," November 1, 2009.

President Obama is within weeks of making a decision on sending additional troops to Afghanistan, White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod said on "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"He has gone through a very rigorous process because the goal here is not just to make an arithmetic judgment about the number of troops, but to make sure that we have the right strategy to reach our goal," Axelrod told host Bob Schieffer.

He added that the top priority is to keep al Qaeda from making Afghanistan its base again.

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When asked about presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah's decision to drop out of the runoff election there and whether that might undercut the legitimacy of Karzai's government, Axelrod said that Abdullah had a right to withdraw, and that Mr. Obama's main concern was ensuring a fair election.

"Mr. Abdullah has exercised his rights as a candidate to withdraw. He has made a political decision to withdraw from this contest. And that doesn't markedly change the situation," he said, adding that Abdullah's comments today were moderate.

"He left open as to whether his supporters should participate in the process and he's establishing himself as as a leader of the opposition. But every poll that'd been taken there suggested that he was likely to be defeated anyway."

Axelrod said the White House will have to deal with the government in Kabul. "Obviously, there're issues we need to discuss, such as reducing the high level of corruption there. These are issues we'll take up with President Karzai."