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. John

    Unfortunately this should make it clear to everyone that Mitt Romney is out of his league when it comes to foreign policy. Can you imagine what his rampany flip flopping would look like to our allies?

    September 12, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  2. Florida Joe

    Sure sign that Mitt knows it is not going well. This clown is on every side of every issue. At a time like this we should all rally around our President as we were told by these same people after 911.........Now because we have President Obama in the White House they feel it is ok to ridicule our President..........They are UNAMERICAN and need to shut up and support our Commander in Chief

    September 12, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  3. Prariedoc

    There was a time when, in the event of a international crisis affecting the U.S., that politicians would set aside partisan rhetoric and unite as one to show our unified resolve against those who would attack us in any way. Seems Gov. Romney doesn't see it that way. His resorting to cheap political statements clearly demonstrate the emptiness of his campaign and person. If there was any doubt about him as a possible president, it's been shown today that this man should only get in the White House using a visitors pass! He's secretive, out of touch with the majority of Americans, only concerned about the upper 1% and now has shown us he'll sink to depths unknown to try and fool the American people! He most certainly blackens the political process further with arrogance, smugness and disregard for those directly affected!

    September 12, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  4. UDidntBuildThat

    Were any of u outraged when Obama camp attacked Romney yesterday on Sept 11th? No? then I guess u have no say now do ya? The fact is the Ambassor is dead today due the failed foreign policies of this Obama Admin. Muslim Brotherhood were allowed to gain power in Libya and Egypt due to Obama's failed foreign policies. Pure an simple. Obama is in charged and he is responsible for everything. We know, if this were a Republican President, u better believe the blame would be laid squarely at his feet and all of CNN and the Lame-Stream media would be Monday morning quarter-backing about how the Muslim Brotherhood gain power which ultimately led to the Ambassor's death.

    What happen to everyone loving us in the world now that Lord Obama is the President? I guess the old apology tour did not work so what does Obama Admin do? Apologize some more.
    Now that's CHANGE u can believe in!

    September 12, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  5. Robert S

    The attitude of Romney reminds me of Bush. We don't want a copycat of Bush anymore.

    September 12, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  6. Lisa

    I think the MOST shocking and disappointing thing for me. Was that when Willard spoke today b4 POTUS knowing the facts. He STILL choose to IGNORE them! We r taught to judge a man by the his character an content. Where when one is on a soap box with a lage megaphone, that cool heads would prevail. In this mans case I saw more flame throwing. Stirring of the pot filled with incindeary ingredients. How can I trust someone like this? I am alarmed that infact this man could be the one with his finger on the proverbial trigger. With, it seems a perpetual bloodlust. That he and his sons, daughters and grandsons will certinlly not be on the frontline off. To date I will not vote for what he stand s for.... Warmongering, the rich, anti-women. Anti middle class, the poor, minorities and Romney economics. The list is infinite...... I once heard it Said, that rich old men send young men to fight wars. While they and those they love stay enconsed in their luxurious homes. Thus making the decision so much easier. Is this what we really want ppl? I suspect NOT!

    September 12, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  7. beevee

    Romney and his camp with the thoughtless statements about president Obama's weak foreign policy citing the tragic loss of US embassy personnel in Libya goes to show what a bunch of morons they are trying to capitalize on tragic loss of lives. This is stupidity , not foreign policy expertise. Who thinks that Romney knows anything about foreign policy anyways? Any one who does is a stupid himself.

    September 12, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  8. Gina says

    Romney had a chance to give his condolences to the family who lost a husband and a father. Instead he again proved he is clueless when it comes to having compassion for people. Really sounds familiar.

    September 12, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  9. bdhpoet

    As a veteran, US Navy Navigation officer Department Head serving on a ship that among other deployments was anchoered at GITMO during the Cuban Missle crisis. As a veteran that lost a best friend, a Marine Phantom jet pilot. I am happy to say:

    Mitt Romney WAS NOT President during the Cuban Missle Crisis and should not be President now.

    September 12, 2012 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  10. atest

    I am surprised how many obama cnn poster surrogates who have been paid by obama and his team to write comments which they from their heart also feel is not right.

    I was a big supporter of Obama in 2008 but now I am neutral because of his policies . I am amazed and astonished at how much time Obama have spent in reviving job market instead of campaigning in last 6-7 months when economy is so fragile. It must not be more than few minutes to few hours at most.

    September 12, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  11. Nengal

    We should pull all diplomats from middle eastern countries and politically isolate ourselves from them. Romney wants to do the exact opposite and become extremely involved (ie: war). Puffing your chest out at Russia and threatening Iran in your nomination acceptance speech is a great way to start.

    September 12, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  12. Patchygroundfog

    Why would the Romney campaign need pre-programmed GOP robots to spin his ill-conceived political cynicism, trying to score points off a violent American tragedy that the.president promises will end in justice for the fallen, if Romney didn't know he is flat-out wrong? The Romney/Ryan pattern of first disregarding the truth or just outright lying and then making up defenses out of whole cloth that no one but the most thinking-impaired Republicans is transparent to the majority, who have come to realize the contempt Romney has for voters – he and Ryan think we are really that stupid. They will soon find out the REAL truth about voter intelligence and ability to spot a political fraud - big time!!!

    September 12, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  13. UDidntBuildThat

    Sniffit
    U might want to stop sniffing whatever u r sniffing. The Romney camp was responding to the Embassy's apology to the Muslim Brotherhood, after the Amb.'s death. That apology was released and after that was when Romney pounced as he should. B/c if the Embassy which represent this Obama Admin issues a statement that the WH is claiming/lying did not come fr them then who the heck is running this country!!!!?

    U r just like the typical Democrat to lie and make stuff up!

    September 12, 2012 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    Weakness and apologies do not undo anything. A swift strong and resolute response may help prevent the next one. In any event, how did the security we provide fail and what is being done to insure security at all American Embassies where this kind of activity may occur again?

    September 12, 2012 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  15. The hidden agenda of the Left

    You Libs amaze me. You blame the guy who made the film which incited these a p e s to kill our people. What about the crucifix dipped in urine and called art? Did you see Christians marching, burning, and killing? I am glad that Romney stood up for Americans and freedom of speech instead of apologizing for it like the Obama administration did. I wish you Libs lived in an Islamic state and had to suffer for your beliefs or lack of beliefs. Then your fat mouths may sing a different tune.

    September 12, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    Too late, Republicans! Your "man" isn't fit to be President. Does he have no decency? Nor patriotism? don't let this man near the White House!!! He is a joke in foreign policy experience.....can't even deal with our good friends, British, how could he possibly deal with a crisis??? Obama/Biden 2012

    September 12, 2012 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  17. Sniffit

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

    That's as good as an admission that they did "jump the gun" and are trynig to avoid admitting it by deflecting the question. Period.

    September 12, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  18. Morgan Hill

    Romney is just looking for any opportunity to jump all over President Obama. We know the truth, this republican man is weak and knows very little about foreign policy. The republican candidate is so ignorant and irresponsible. He says things that are shameful and absurd. Romney is a scary sick man, he has no place near the White House. He does not have the courage to govern our country with resilience and pride. Romney should just shut up and let the real leaders take care of business. Governing our country takes more guts than romney has. The makers of the film that caused the demonstrations should be held responsible for the deaths. Romney shares the film makers idiologies and beliefs.

    September 12, 2012 12:59 pm at 12:59 pm |
  19. SafeJourney

    Romneys lying remarks are about a statement issued BY THE EMBASSY in Cairo. They were MADE PRIOR TO THE ATTACKS. This statement was NOT made by President Obama. Romney is again lying and Politicizing the deaths of an American Ambassador and Americans in his statement last night. SHAME on Romney

    September 12, 2012 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  20. V

    Or – they can do what Romney did when the questions got uncomfortable this morning – just walk away . . . Some great President he would make, eh? He opened himself up for questions, but when he didn't like the questions, he walked away from the podium. What a Joke!!

    September 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  21. Gurgyl

    Mitt has no idea-just speaks!!!

    September 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  22. ST

    Romney acts like a drunk Captain sailor. He is enjoying now because he threw away Gingrich, Perry, Santorum, Bachmann, Hantsman, Ron Paul etc. etc. He did it in such a way that he got help of his money, but nothing which convinced people to elect him as a leader.
    If thinks that he will use that technique again to become president, he better think again. People are not stupid as he thinks they are!

    September 12, 2012 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  23. Tamera Jensen

    I think we have to ask ourselves why not one Libyian or Egyption was shot that close to either Embassy on 9-11 and why the mob was told where the Libyian Ambassedor was taken...? What is that? Should those embassies not have been on high alert on the anniversary of 9-11? I think if our government is going to apologize to Muslims for some nut in America making a movie then they should maybe also apologize to the Mormons for the offensive (to them I understand), "Book of Mormon" Broadway play and NBC's Brian Williams showing a picture of their sacred clothing on television. Just imagine what would happen if they Brian had done that to their religion on television? What a crock of hipocrisy! And why were the libyians wearing "occupy" masks? Wake up people, Wake up.....

    September 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  24. TAK

    Using the death of U.S. citizens abroad for political purposes is revolting, despicable.and ghoulish. Mitt Romney is not fit to be president just on moral grounds alone.

    September 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  25. Ludlow Palmer

    Romney, as usual, is a shameless opportunist, which is why he was so successful at Bain. He will use any opportunity – even in a time of disaster like this – distract people from his lack of specifics on his plans for the ecomony, insurance, jobs, taxes, his Massachusetts record, his Bain record, all the lies he and Ryan have been telling, deceitful ads, women's health issues, flip-flopping, etc. This articke shows that he is a pathetic, desperate candidate.. I'm an independent, but I know who the clear choice is in this election. I can not WAIT for the debates – Pres. Obama will MOP THE FLOOR with Mitt Romney.

    September 12, 2012 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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