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. FahQtoo

    Romney is the kind of scum that cant wait for something tragic to happen to America so he can score political points. This man is the lowest of the low. The president has the burden of actually managing the nation as he's running for re-election but the obstructionist, accusationalist Romney campaign gets to sit on the sidelines and whine about everything from a safe distance.
    GO AWAY ROMNEY!!!!...after you lose in November (and you will lose), I hope America never hears from you again.

    September 12, 2012 12:41 pm at 12:41 pm |
  2. HZ

    I was wondering how long it would take for hardcore republicans to spin the attack into being President Obama's fault. lol.

    September 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  3. Stanley

    Romney should be ashamed of himself. He can try all he wants to walk it back, but what he did was irresponsible and unpresidential. He clearly stands for nothing of substance.

    September 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  4. FahQGOP

    Romney is the kind of scum that cant wait for something tragic to happen to America so he can score political points. This man is the lowest of the low. The president has the burden of actually managing the nation as he's running for re-election but the obstructionist, accusationalist Romney campaign gets to sit on the sidelines and whine about everything from a safe distance.
    GO AWAY ROMNEY!!!!...after you lose in November (and you will lose), I hope America never hears from you again.

    September 12, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Thomas

    Can someone point out to me where Obama apologized? The embassy (before it was attacked, trying to save their lives) apologized. I don't quite see where Obama has though.

    September 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  6. Hiram Davis

    And you think this little girl in the WH responded appropriately with more apologies. Heaven forbid we get into an actual shooting war while this pretend man is in charge. He'll be the first to jump behind the First Eaters huge body for protection, crying, Mommy, Mommy, make them stop.

    September 12, 2012 12:43 pm at 12:43 pm |
  7. kabulate

    Romney's statements are not only apolitical, untimely and misguided but they are downright unpatriotic while the bodies of these four people are en route to their families here at home. Sir, do you have no decency?

    September 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    BTW, both CArol Costello and Wolf Blitzer owe CNN readers/viewers an apology. This morning, they BOTH reported on Mittens demonstrably false attack on Obama without noting that the statement Mittens was criticizing was released BEFORE the attacks, making it impossible for Obama to have condemned the attacks in those statements. Mittens was blatantrly and demonstrably LYING again and CNN was carrying his water AGAIN. Your loyal fans deserve the truth, not carefully constructed false equivalency narratives that try to lend unwarranted legitimacy to one side in order to prevent the false equivalency from crumbling. What Mittens said was false and displayed his penchant for flying off the handle and making knee-jerk cowboy foreign policy judgments and it does the public ZERO service for so-called "journalists" to try to hide that from us.

    September 12, 2012 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  9. Gina

    How about the ambassador's family?
    This was Romney's opportunity to
    empathize with the family and for once show that he can relate to people who are suffering. He again fell short.

    September 12, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  10. Bob

    Foreign policy in a nascent Democratic Libya is delicate. You cannot shoot from the hip like Romney has done.

    September 12, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Marsha

    I cringe when I read Mitt remarks. I guess he is taking Sarah Palin advise to make his attacks personal on President Obama. This is just disgraceful. He said to judge he by his values ...well if this is the kind of thing we going to see from a Commander in Chief who clearly does not understand foreign policy and diplomacy then America Good Luck. The Obama White house should also stand by it's embassy decision to put out that statement because clearly they were trying to defuse a potentially dangerous situation. If lives can be saved by calming apologetic words then we need not distance ourselves from them.

    September 12, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  12. J Arquipway

    Why was Romney smirking during and after his PC. It that a revealing tic that signifies he's lying again? He failed his 3AM campaign moment with this response. He's not fit to be president.

    September 12, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  13. sassysticks53

    What a disgrace and an embarassment Romney is! Then again, why am I surprised. This man wants to lead our nation? He's not ready for primetime. What does a "successful businessman" know about foreign policy and diplomacy? Apparently, not much. In the words of the late soul singer James Brown, Romney and the GOP are "just talking loud and saying nothing – saying nothing."

    September 12, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  14. 66muds99

    Well that was a good election. Who's up for 2016?

    September 12, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  15. roxk

    Condeming Romney is the best thing to do rather than condeming the attackers. Obama scored politically here.

    September 12, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  16. Amused

    Romney didn't come up with any of those talking points. They were all written by someone else, and Romney probably never even read them. Remember, this is a guy who won't let his campaign be dictated by 'facts'.

    Romney: You are NOT the President, Obama is. This was an attack on a US embassy, which the President is tasked with dealing with. Not you. You don't set policy. He does. You don't determine official American policy in the middle east, he does. You don't direct military actions, he does. You don't get to deploy troops, he does. You don't have any say whatsoever in America's response to this. You're right, we cannot afford to send Mixed signals (even though it contradicts several other of your issued talking points) so SHUT UP, and support the President (who is NOT YOU) in the American response to this action.

    September 12, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. Jake

    Has anyone seen the photo of Romney smirking after he made the ill-advised press announcement? He's actually smiling at the opportunity to do a press release at the cost of American lives. Shameful and desperate.

    September 12, 2012 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. alien

    This guy Romney needs to heed the old adage. Engage brain before engaging mouth.

    September 12, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. linda

    Romeny blew it....he has shown he is not Presidental material.....this man will have American in another war before his 1 years would be up.....what about this idiot Preacher who made this stupid movie, he should be made to carry the blame......and it is these far right religious wingnuts that support Romney.......kiss it off Romney you just put the final knot in the rope thats going to hang you and your bid for the WH.......

    September 12, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. Ronda in Houston,TX

    Romney must be listening to his campaign advisors who are gravely bad for him and the Republican Party.

    September 12, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. Keith A. Sillsbury

    Rob Me is a HUGE embarrassment to all of us.

    September 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. Mercedes

    What every you think of Bush is irrelevant today, almost 11 years later. His time has passed. I simply would not compare Bush to Romney. That is just not fair to Bush. Romney's poor lack of judgement and insensitivity to a tragedy that has affected the country, someone's husband, parents, children and friend is truly disgusting. Romney's attempt to act and look Presidential was embarrassing! Well he's not our President and I doubt will ever be. He clearly showed us, that what comes out of his mouth is for Romney; as long as he thinks there might be some political gain or opportunity. We call that an opportunist! The problem with Romney is that he does know or get when to open his mouth. His inability to comprehend a statement made by the Embassy and translate it, as the President apologizing is ignorant. He clearly not only lacks math skills, we now know he lacks reading comprehension skills too. Harvard graduate?

    September 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  23. Lessha

    I am so sick of all the media who are so bias they cover up for Obama all the time. Obama is ruining our Country and they don't care and you are all falling for everything this lame media is handing you. Romney is our only hope mark my words. If this Country votes Obama in again they get what they ask for and believe me it will be a sad, sad day for America. Please wake up people and see who Obama really is. I am begging you wake up.

    September 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  24. FactCheck

    We won't let FACTS dictate the course of our campaign.

    September 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  25. Robert

    It's very sad that Mr. Romney would use the tragedy in Lybia for political gain. That's one "Con" for Mr. Romney!

    September 12, 2012 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
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