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. Rick McDaniel

    The people of this country need to ask themselves......is this how we should be repaid, for spending 700 billion dollars of our money to provide weapons and air support for their revolution? Is this how we should be repaid for millions more in foreign aid, when we are already broke? is this what you want to give Obama accolades for? if so, we really are idiots, as voters.

    September 12, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  2. Debbie

    Romney comes across as GW McCain. A cross between GWBush and Weapons of Mass Destruction and John McCain lets bomb xyz country. Leadership doesn't shoot from the hip but gains as many facts as possible in a reasonable time. Romney shot from the hip thus didn't show leadership.

    September 12, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  3. Sandy

    Obama to Romney: I'M THE PRESIDENT!

    September 12, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. 66muds99

    Now is not the time for a partisan speech. Now is the time to stand together and to face up to this attack together. Show some leadership by making a great speech while uniting the country. Mitt would have won points if he would have waited to criticize after this situation had calmed down. Now he looks terrible. What kind of buffoons are advising him?

    September 12, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  5. Mike

    I don't like to say things like this...but I think it needs to be stated: Mitt Romney is a soulless person who has proven time and time again that his entire persona is dictated by politics and a constant dedication to changing his viewpoints on a daily or even hourly basis. Over and over he has proven that his opinions are based merely on the current "news cycle" and where he thinks he needs to be in order to pander to the lowest common denominator.

    The way Romney and his campaign have handled this human tragedy is disgusting. Desperate campaigns that are losing do desperate things. And this episode has proven that Romney has no limits to how low he will sink to try to score political points.

    It is disgusting, it is inappropriate, and it's yet another look into just how devoid of humanity this Republican presidential candidate truly is. Coupled with the debacle of his international trip in July (which included him insulting the British while on their home soil), Romney has proven that he is a terrible representative for the United States.

    September 12, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. v_mag

    When it comes to foreign policy Mittler can't find his butt with a GPS.

    September 12, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  7. Rudy NYC

    Hmm. A complete list of factually incorrect talking points coming out of the right wing. Where are all of the complainers and whiners about the liberal mainstream media bias? Sarah? Newt? Fair?

    September 12, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    The wailings of a very desperate man, that Romney Twit. And don't let him fool you – he has no balls whatsoever. He'd even blame the President for the runny eggs he was served this morning, or high tides.

    September 12, 2012 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  9. Jason

    Empty Chair to Mitt: Think before you speak!

    September 12, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  10. Boo

    Everytime Robme opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it. And what the hell does he know about foreign policy? He's just like that cretin, Bush. All he does is insult our allies around the world.

    September 12, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  11. globalsuit

    So many people seemed to think that Obama was the answer for the Middle East, and that he would help usher in an era of peace talks and respect for the United States. Clearly, regardless on who is President, it is very clear the Middle East still has large amounts of extremists who despise us.

    And for the rest of this peanut gallery of hate:
    Zanny – It's called the Quran. Please do a little research before you post, because your ignorance is showing through.
    Georgia Girl – One can argue that Obama has been using the military in Afghanistan (post Iraq) as his private toy army. And don't start me on the drone attacks. Go read what Code Pink is putting out there.
    1crusader – Any President is going to struggle, stop being partisan and say something that means something. Not parrot Liberal or Right-Wing talking points.
    Southern Hottie – What about Osama Bin Laden? And that's really not three words...just a name. Just sayin'

    September 12, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  12. vicki

    Please remember at the RNC, Romney's only referance to foreign policty was directed at Russia.........

    September 12, 2012 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  13. Ol' Lefty

    What a disgraceful performance by Willard. Turning a sad event into an effort to score political points. Obviously, he's not ready to be President.

    September 12, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. dug61

    The 1st response to an attack on American embassies is to apologize to the attackers for something a private citizen did?? Obama has repeatedly turned his back on America's best friends, Great Britain and Isreal. He gave weapons to the people overrunning the embassies. And all you socialists have is lets attack Romeny for saying the truth. Obama is the worst president since Carter. He will pass Carter soon if this keeps up.

    September 12, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    Your analysis is completely wrong. Quit defending that lukewarm response of the President. He condemned Romney before he even condemned the wrongdoings in Cairo and Libya! Romney is exactly right – as President – YOU ARE IN CHARGE of all statements, approved or not. Get real.

    September 12, 2012 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  16. Mikey

    Terrible talking points. Guarantee they will roll eyes.

    September 12, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  17. cowboyneok

    Craven politics at a time of national crisis. Romney DISQUALIFIED himself from Commander-in-Chief. As a veteran, I'd like to remind Mr. Romney he could have served during Vietnam but ran to France as a Mormon Missionary.

    September 12, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  18. DC Insider

    So many people seemed to think that Obama was the answer for the Middle East, and that he would help usher in an era of peace talks and respect for the United States. Clearly, regardless on who is President, it is very clear the Middle East still has large amounts of extremists who despise us.

    And for the rest of this peanut gallery of hate:
    Zanny – It's called the Quran. Please do a little research before you post, because your ignorance is showing through.
    Georgia Girl – One can argue that Obama has been using the military in Afghanistan (post Iraq) as his private toy army. And don't start me on the drone attacks. Go read what Code Pink is putting out there.
    1crusader – Any President is going to struggle, stop being partisan and say something that means something. Not parrot Liberal or Right-Wing talking points.
    Southern Hottie – What about Osama Bin Laden? And that's really not three words...just a name. Just sayin'

    September 12, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  19. kathy/Minnesota

    There comes a point where, when it comes to mittens, I just SMH.

    September 12, 2012 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  20. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    “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
    -------------------------------------------------
    Just like with his poltical ads and Lyin Ryan he continues to stand by his LIE.
    How many feet can you fit in your mouth Romney?

    There is an upside to this abomination, people are seeing the "foreign policy" side of Romney and they don't like it one bit.
    They are seeing how this man is more interested in scoring political points than getting the facts.
    More interested in lying about what the President actually said than standing united with the President and America.

    The Lord indeed works in mysterious ways.

    September 12, 2012 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  21. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    Your guy had atleast 7 years and didn't get him!
    ---------------------–
    I believe his exact words were "I'm truly not concerned about Bin Laden." – George W. Bush

    September 12, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  22. UDidntBuildThat

    What is ridiculous is Axelrod tweeting attacks on Romney yesterday September 11th, when they both agreed to NOT do just that. Where was the santimonious outrage about that on our most sacred day of mourning fr all the morons here and CNN?

    What is ridiculous is after our Amb. is kiiled WH apologized once again when it released a statement yesterday. Then WH had to retract & said they did not mean to apologize. Who the heck is running the country? Who allowed the Muslim Brotherhood to take over Egypt and Libya? Everyone warned Obama and once again he Lord Obama knows better. Romney is right to attack Obama. There is no fallout. CNN just like to make stuff up.

    September 12, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  23. Khaleeshi

    Romney has actually declared religious intolerance to be an American value! The man is contemptible and unfit for the Presidency. What is wrong with this guy?

    Obama/Biden 2012

    September 12, 2012 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  24. SOUTHERN HOTTIE

    Mr. Romney's mouth? Meet Mr. Romney's foot.

    September 12, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  25. timd

    When Ronney went to Europe in what appeared to be an attempt to look presidential he made a complete utter fool of himself. There was no real harm done and Europe had a chance to see and laugh at the Romney we have known for a long time. This situation is much different in its lack of sensitivity and caring, its blatant political exploitation and the possible harm it has done to a very intricate challenge. Along with the sadness and outrage all real Americans feel, there is also a realization of just how scary and dangerous a Romney presidency would be.

    September 12, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
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