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. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    A vulture capitalist acting as a vulture politician... Why would anyone be surprised?

    Gee Mitt... Are you routing for the next tragedy already? Shameful!!

    September 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  2. Omni

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

    Ha! That was the label. I should have been. This Is What I Should Have Done.

    September 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  3. Ling

    Romney is not President now. This is all fallout from Obama's policies on Libya so Romney is not even relevant right now other to say what he might have done. We have dead Americans being paraded around and don't you think we ought to be getting more specifics from Sec. Clinton and Obama? One thing we do know is all that sweet talk from Obama was not much help with the Muslim botherhood crazies.

    September 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  4. ll

    Romney = War waiting to happen.

    September 12, 2012 01:03 pm at 1:03 pm |
  5. bdhpoet

    As a US Navy (Navigation Officer and Navigation Department Head) veteran that served during the Cuban Missle Crisis:

    (Calm under pressure and patience in making good decisions that save lives was learned by me at 26 years of age and I learned it from a Mustang Skipper. (For you not privileged to serve as a Swabby or Jarhead, a Mustang is an officer that went from seaman apprentice to Line Officer.)

    I AM VERY HAPPY MITT ROMNEY WAS NOT PRESIDENT during the Cuban Missle Crisis. Neither you nor I might possibly not be here today.

    Hotheads and seat of pants managers make poor Line Officers and Commanders in Chief.

    Now way would I wish to serve my country under Mitt Romney. Shame on you Mitt!

    September 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  6. Yo

    So, now CNN is just copy / pasting GOP text... is this a paid advertisement for the GOP?

    Surely, you don't suggest that copy/ pasting is journalism!

    September 12, 2012 01:04 pm at 1:04 pm |
  7. joe

    rommey is so patheic. period.

    September 12, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  8. The Dude

    Not surprised, Romney is desperate for attention and a win in the news cycle. So pathetic, I hope Republicans recognize how ignorant his statement is and refrain from defending him.

    September 12, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  9. HOLY TIGHTY WHITIES WILLARD

    The debate lineup needs to change and the first matter at hand should be national security and foreign policy. Let's put that on the table right now! Willard Robmey needs to show me his foreign policy bonafides since he has the answer to everything. All he does is talk. I don't think he would have had the courage to make the gut call the President did to go into Pakistan and get Bin Laden. I don't think he had any intentions on ending the Iraq war. More so, I highly doubt he would have restored America's image abroad. We've already seen this past summer what an embarrassment he is to us. Bring it on Willard!!!!

    September 12, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    Hmmm. One could almost agrue that the plan behind the plan backfired on you big time, Mitt Romney.

    September 12, 2012 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  11. thetruthandnothingbutthetruth

    takes a lot of brass for Romney to undercut a sitting president!

    September 12, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  12. Seth

    Pure desperation. It's over for Mittens and he just completely sealed his doom. Not like he had a chance anyway.

    September 12, 2012 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  13. Facts don't Lie

    the Romney campaign has to be by far the WORST I have ever witnessed in my life. He should have taken the advice of some on the right who said that he should have FIRED the whole lot. Now since Mitt has shot off at the mouth BEFORE he had all the facts, his campaign is trying to tell Republicans how they should respond when asked questions? Truely PATHETIC and unprofessional.

    September 12, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    Just 26 days until early voting starts where I live. \

    Just 26 days until I can pull that lever STRAIGHT DEM and tell them all to quit wasting time and money trying to lie to me a get a vote for hate, fear, and negativity that I will never vote for.

    September 12, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  15. dallas.alphonso

    Mitt Looked pretty desperate with his criticism of Obama using the attack on Americans in Libya as justification for doing so; showing very poor judgement in the process

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

    Look this is just another instance of mishandling of foreign issues by the current administration. And you all know that anything and everything is fair game during the election season. What Romney has exposed, again, is the administration's indifference to foreign affairs and the lack of care for the principles of this country. Unfortunately Romney used the occasion to bash the administration in poor taste. But it is what it is this season. Just ride it out.

    September 12, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  17. Say_NO_to_four_more_years

    For not throwing out both the Libian and Egypt ambassadors, Hillary should be fired.

    Where is all the outcries when Christians and Jews are slanderd, mocked, and killed?

    Why is this White House insist on bowing to the Islamic extreme countries and their leaders?

    Time to protect Americans interest first.

    It's. Jimmy Carter all over again.

    September 12, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  18. Joan in MS

    Romney = clueless war blustering. Ryan's foreign policy credentials = "I voted to send men and women to war."

    How DISGRACEFUL!

    September 12, 2012 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  19. Claire

    By criticizing the POTUS, romney is also criticizing Hillary Clinton... willard is out of his league. His attack is unworthy of an American.

    September 12, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  20. Libery and Freedom

    Sorry Guys, but II'll stick with Mitt. He is clear and decisive in his thoughts and his actions. I don't belioeve he spoke out of turn at all, but spoke as a man in love with his country and what it stands for. All of us should feel outrage at our American diplomats being murdered and our embassy being attacked. It is outrageous that any foreign country or people should feel they have the right to attack us after all we as a nation have done to help them over the years.
    I wondered as I watched tv late last night – where is our president as this was going on – I guess mum's the word with him

    September 12, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  21. gr8usa

    There is only one appropriate response to this horrible tragedy. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the fine Americans who lost their lives serving their country. We are working with the Libyan authorities to bring those responsible to justice." Feel free to copy and paste that, Mitt. I'm here to help you in your time of bumbling stupidity.

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

    And Willard M. Romney is the best the GOP could fine for President! I see why Paul Ryan is also launching a re-election campaign for his congressional seat! Just in case the whole Mitt train falls off the track!

    September 12, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. FreeHawk9

    The President didn’t apologize for violating Afghanistan’s sovereignty in order to kill Bin Laden and he didn’t apologize in this instance. And I’m pretty certain the President will not apologize when he crushes this Wall Street lap dog in the debates.

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

    Republicans resonse to everything is violence. Can you say Diplomacy? Is the producer of the film a Romney supporter?

    September 12, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Patchygroundfog

    Bumper sticker spotted on Ohio freeway: "Mitt Romney is to statesmanship as his Etch-A-Sketch is to art."

    September 12, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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