“Leaving Americans behind and leaving our Afghan friends behind who’ve worked with us would put upon us and will put upon us a moral stain,” the Utah Republican told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” when asked if US troops should remain in the country following Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline to ensure that all US citizens, legal permanent residents and Afghan allies are evacuated.
“This did not have to happen. It was preventable,” added Romney. “We didn’t have to be in this rush-rush circumstance with terrorists breathing down our neck. But it’s really the responsibility of the prior administration and this administration that has caused this crisis to be upon us.”
“We are all committed to ensuring that our citizens, nationals and residents, employees, Afghans who have worked with us and those who are at risk can continue to travel freely to destinations outside Afghanistan,” the statement said in part.
Roughly 250 Americans who are attempting to leave Afghanistan remain in the country, according to new figures from a State Department spokesperson on Sunday. Approximately 50 evacuations have taken place in the last day, bringing the total number of American citizens evacuated to 5,500.
“Our team on the ground continues to coordinate assistance around the clock for this group, while taking the current security situation into account,” the State Department spokesperson said in a statement.
The US has evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of about 111,900 people overall since August 14, according to a White House official.
“One of the things we learned on the ground there is that one of the biggest burdens on the troops are all these haphazard requests coming in from members of Congress and members of the administration in not — in no sort of organized way,” said Moulton.
The US troops “are doing this incredibly heroic effort, not only out there … in front of the gate to find these Afghans, but behind the wire in the airport to simply identify which ones we need to get, to sift through thousands and thousands of requests, and figure out which ones we need to bring over the wire,” he said. “So the system is not working very well.”
On Sunday, the White House announced that about 2,900 people had been evacuated from Kabul from 3 a.m. ET Saturday to 3 a.m. ET Sunday. Those evacuations were carried out by 32 US military flights that carried approximately 2,200 evacuees and nine coalition flights that carried 700 people.
This story has been updated with additional details Sunday.
CNN’s Barbara Starr, Jason Hoffman, Paul LeBlanc and Chandelis Duster contributed to this report.