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. Mark

    Romney/Ryan not understanding foreign policy or foreign affairs, like G. Bush would be our next 9/11 President. A guy who doesn't have the facts, or absorb the facts and speaks out. G Bush had the fact that our national security was at risk, Bush completely ignored them, thus 9/11. Now I understand why G Bushes mouth was agape, when he heard the news. He finally understood what the CIA was telling him. He ignored their warning. Not tighten up our nations security. Now we know Bush. Another complete failure on this nation.

    September 12, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  2. More Tape Please

    Say it like it is – a vote for Romney is a vote for WW3

    September 12, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  3. GI Joe

    Mit is a knee-jerk hot-head reactionary.

    I'll stick with President Obama to THINK before speaking.

    September 12, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. DaveinPA

    Romney is simply unAmerican to criticize the President about this. Romney's true colors: a power-hungry empty suit, wanting only to stuff the pockets of the top 1%.

    September 12, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  5. PJ

    This is just pathetic. They are admitting that Romney doesn't have a coherent thought in his head. They are
    advising Republicans on how to respond to yet another Romney oops?
    This is too serious for the games they are playing.
    How about they advise their candidate that if he can't say anything intelligent, don't say anything at all. That

    September 12, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  6. Mark

    Romney/Ryan being advised by the old G. Bush advisors, speaking out on a foreign matter they do not have the background of or have the knowledge to speak out. Attacking Obama again. Romney is not a leader, not close to being a leader, he is the PUPPET of conservatives and really playing a loosing game.

    September 12, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  7. peggy

    I watched Secretary of State Clinton, firm, appropriate,and resolved. I watched President Obama, crisp, resolute, strong, carefully chosen words and extremely thoughtful. Then I watched Romney, careless words, strong rhetoric, unnecessary mention of God an inappropriate comments.

    September 12, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  8. Jerri

    How can Governer Romney make a political statement about foriegn affairs which has no privy to to foriegn intellegence?????????????

    September 12, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  9. ConcernedSNCO

    The president responded appropriately to the tragic situation. Mitt has no room to critique anyone on foreign policy. He and his neo conservatives only want to get us mixed up in another unnecessary war. To have never served this great country I'm the military like the rest of his, he sure is opinionated about things he has no idea about.

    September 12, 2012 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  10. TomInRochNY

    Like the Red October Romney is built for one thing, to start another war.

    September 12, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  11. g

    The Romney campaign is totally messed up!

    September 12, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  12. 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 |
  13. Khaleeshi

    Romney is a disgrace to himself and the nation. A complete moral failure.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 12, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    YeeeeeeeeeHAAAAAAAWWWWWWW!!!!! Rootin' tootin' Amurikan foreign policy!!!!! Are Mittens and Williamson taking advice from Yosemite Sam?

    September 12, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  15. Ybsnad

    Timmeh,
    You had your balls for change commander with w, and we all see what a mess that half thought out response to a direct attack on our soil has turned out to be.

    I understand there is nothing that can be done for your ideological lack of learning from history and romantic retelling of it to further your own greedy money and power grabbing, but now your having trouble with short term memory leading to current events too?

    I thought the economy had hit bottom already, but it is clear that things will get even worse if conservatives gain more power this November.

    September 12, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  16. asm_ith

    Romney's absurd statement is indicative of their clear lack of concern for facts. Instead of determining that the statement was issued BEFORE any attack had occurred, Romney tried to score political points, even violating his own pledge to not play politics on 9/11. We know that Romney isn't very concerned with facts; his campaign has even said "we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." So instead of trying to help calm the situation, Romney is inflaming things. We have only 1 President, and it isn't Romney, and the President is responsible for foreign policy. So Romney shouldn't be doing things to undercut Obama and making it more difficult for Obama to do things in foreign policy. But we also shouldn't be surprised at Romney's unethical, immature, amateurish behavior.

    September 12, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  17. Malory Archer

    Too late mittens. You said it, you meant it. TIme for you to pack up and head back to one of your mansions as you lost whatever ghost of a chance you had of defeating President Obama when you decided to use this tragedy to score political points.

    September 12, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  18. Thomas

    This is political suicide in action.

    September 12, 2012 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  19. Maxx

    Mitt really is getting desperate. It's only going to get worse as he sinks lower in the polls. Once people get to know him, they don't like him much.

    September 12, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  20. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    @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 |
    *******************************************************************************************************************************
    THREE WORDS FOR YA! OSAMA BIN LADEN.

    Your guy had atleast 7 years and didn't get him!

    September 12, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  21. Rick 7809

    Mitt left out the part about this is why we need to keep the Defense Department budget high, so when things like this happen, we can have the money to start dropping bombs on people. Mitt will do or say anything to try and make political points.

    September 12, 2012 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  22. MrJM

    As a wise man noted - Shorter Romney campaign talking points: We condemn 1) intolerance, and 2) the condemnation of intolerance.

    No further questions!

    September 12, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  23. Common sense grandma

    The culprit behind the movie that incited this riot has displayed atypical bully's cowardly behavior: He has gone into hiding while others pay the price for his hate mongering. Free speech also comes with consequences for your words. I do not condone the violence that has cost lives nor do I condone hate-based speech that attacks the religious beliefs of others. But I absolutely condemn running and hiding instead of facing the consequence of your actions.

    September 12, 2012 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  24. labman57

    Perhaps Romney believes that the U.S. should storm each of these Middle East nations, guns blazing with a "shoot first and to hell with the questions" attitude.

    Sorry Mitt. This is the real world, not a Clint Eastwood movie.

    September 12, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  25. roxk

    Obama 2012!
    Obama will make sure that we unemployed people get food stamps and welfare. There is no need to condemn any attacks. People who died already gone. Obama, as the clear-headed american will not engage in sudden retaliation.

    September 12, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
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