FIRST ON CNN: Romney camp tries to manage fallout from Libya response
September 12th, 2012
12:00 PM ET
2 years ago

FIRST ON CNN: Romney camp tries to manage fallout from Libya response

De Pere, Wisconsin (CNN) - Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode.

In talking points currently being pushed to Republican leaders and top surrogates, the Romney campaign recommends attacking President's Obama "foreign policy of weakness" and dismissing questions about how the campaign responded to the crisis last night.

A sample response, as proposed by the Romney campaign officials in Boston:

"Did Governor Romney 'jump the gun' last night in releasing his statement?"

"No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests."

Read the full list of message points from the Romney campaign, provided to CNN by a GOP source, below:

MESSAGE POINTS: Attacks On America's Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Surrogate Message Points: Attacks On America’s Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Top-Line Message:

– We join all Americans in grieving for the four American patriots who lost their lives in yesterday’s attacks and send our condolences to their loved ones.

- This is a time for America to be firm and resolute – and to make clear beyond any doubt that America will not tolerate attacks on our own.

- The violence against the American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt underscores that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is sorely needed.

– Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents both opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also great peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.

– American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region do not spin out of control.

– We have seen a foreign policy of weakness and decline in American influence and respect. Yesterday, we saw the consequences of this perceived weakness.

– America cannot send mixed signals to either our allies or our enemies.

– We must not be afraid to use our influence to support those who share our values and interests – and to stand firm against those who threaten them. America cannot shrink from its responsibility to lead.

Questions & Answers:

Don’t you think it was appropriate for the embassy to condemn the controversial movie in question? Are you standing up for movies like this?

– Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.

– But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

– Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.

– If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.

Reports indicate the embassy in Cairo released its initial statement before the invasion of the embassy commenced. Doesn’t this show they were trying to tamp down the protest and prevent what ultimately happened, not sympathize with the protesters?

– The Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

– Distancing themselves from the statement and saying it wasn't ‘cleared by Washington’ reflects the mixed signals they are sending to the world.

– American leadership needs to be decisive and resolute when our interests are threatened or attacked. For the last four years, this has been lacking.

– We have seen a foreign policy of weakness, indecision, and a decline in American influence and respect – and yesterday we saw the consequences.

– If pressed: The Obama campaign is now attacking Governor Romney for being critical of the same statement the Administration itself disavowed. This is hypocritical.

Did Governor Romney “jump the gun” last night in releasing his statement?

– No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.

Full Romney Statement:

“Americans woke up this morning with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world. This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it's disgusting. It breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served, during their lives, the cause of freedom, and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

“Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And, of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones, who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation, and I know that the people across America are grateful for their service and we mourn their sacrifice.

“America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We will defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

“I also believe the Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans, and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't ‘cleared by Washington.’ That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.

“The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests. Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also poses the potential for peril, if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

“We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”


Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (193 Responses)
  1. lolo

    Mr. Romney you are not the president of the United States so keep you lying mouth shut. You came out the box with out even knowing what the details are or whatever else is happening. You just showed America the true Romneyhood yet and again. There is no way i would vote for you. Forget about other Aemericans who are overseas and could be harmed. Alll you care about is your dream of being the president, which will never happen. Anytime you are willing to sell your soul to the devil to get elected, you are not the man for the job period.

    September 12, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  2. Poindexter718

    Mitt Romney will apparently read anything his political adviser and/or the unreconstructed Bush-era neocons who form his foreign policy braintrust put before him, facts be damned. That's not leadership.

    September 12, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  3. the Situation

    Four and The Door

    Face it Democrats. Firm and resolute leadership is not a good description of Obama's foreign policy. And to imagine he plans on being even more flexible in a second term.

    September 12, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |

    You go find and ask Osama Bin Laden about Obama firm leadership on the world stage? Your boy Dubya Tricky Dicky Cheney never cared about Bin Laden as they did about Saddam. Obama never put American soliders in harm, the Libya Conflict last year. Bush went to the UN exactly 8 years ago today to tried to make the case about Iraq, lying to the world about WMD, using the fears of all Americans recovering from 9/11 to wage war against Iraq.

    September 12, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  4. thetruthandnothingbutthetruth

    dare i go there BUT, THE romney/ryan ticket is worse than McCain/Palin?

    September 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  5. Angiolieri

    Disgusting attitude from Romney.

    September 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  6. Ram Gupta

    Obama is a very intelligent guy who deliberates policy decisions carefully and makes generally wise decisions in the best interest of all Americans. He will be re-elected by a substantial margin, as he should be. Obama is interested in the country. The current crop of republican extremists are interested only in themselves. Obama's reason for running is to improve the lives of all of the American people. Romney is running to enhance his resume.

    September 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  7. myviewis

    Romney was absolutely correct.

    September 12, 2012 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  8. Basky72

    Mitt Robmey is a very irresponsible man. This man has no respect and he is so loose

    September 12, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  9. acky55

    If this the way Mitt wants to conduct our foreign policy- a policy of talk before you think then we are trouble. This is the type of policy that took us to lraq spending billions of dollars for no reason. This Mitt of man continue to display his ignorance everyday on all issues. Well knowing Mitt for what he his, he will come out tomorrow to reverse himself,if he has not started doing that already.Mitt the fill-flopper.

    September 12, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  10. john

    Romney is really taking a cheap shot. 1. Obama never apologizes, the embassy staff was "trying" to apologize because they're afraid to be attacked.
    2. So, Romney still want more Arab Springs, just like McCain? It sounds like he wants a World War 3. Man, those defense guys must be giving big money to Romney and Republican PACs. And more wars will push oil price higher too, so it will be good for other Republican benefactors, the oil and energy companies. It's all planned, folks. Get ready for more wars if Romney is elected. God forbid.

    September 12, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Sad that Romney is willing to use the blood of innocent Americans as a political tool.

    September 12, 2012 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  12. Bill, NY

    I would rather have a trained monkey as president than Romney.

    September 12, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  13. Not Surprised!!

    Gallup: Obama 50% Romney 43%

    Rassmusen: Obama 46% Romney 45%

    Rassmusen also reports 4% prefer other candidate and 5% are still UNDECIDED!!!

    Explains Romney's desperation just not closing the deal with 9% of the population!!!

    September 12, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  14. Andrew

    Romney has no soul other than his desire for power. We've got dead Americans and he's going political before they're even buried. The Cairo statement was made before the attacks, not as a response. Embassies always issue calming statements – it often saves lives. To claim that Obama's sympathies are with the attackers is reprehensible. It will play well with the Right Wing Nutjobs, however. Which is even more sad. These people enjoy seeing America suffer, as long as it hurts the president. Treasonous.

    September 12, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  15. Anthony

    Romney should have waited for Obama to make a statement on the Libya situation. We only have one president at a time. Thus, Romney jumped the gun.

    September 12, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  16. Alie

    It is absolutely troubling to have a presidential candidate speak on a tragic event without evaluating the evidence that lead to that moment. It clearly underscores the point that Mr. Romney is not ready to lead the free World. Anyone who occupies that presidential seat, their actions, behavior, or decisions made have pivotal impact in the global atmosphere.

    September 12, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  17. reginaldb6

    Romney is a weak person so he must TALK TOUGH to show the world his real self.
    A WEAK PATHETIC COWARD

    September 12, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    This is just another example of a GOPer/Teatroll rewriting history.

    Reality: Comments from embassy condemning the vile and hateful islamaphobe movie BEFORE the attacks.

    Romnality: Comments made by embassy before the attacks should have magically defied time and space and condemned the attacks OR "please please please ignore the chronology and believe that the comments were made after the attacks...c'mon folks, we're desperate here and we need you to be just as ignorant as we think you are."

    September 12, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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