September 14th, 2012
10:32 AM ET
2 years ago

Romney adviser blames Obama for Libya, Egypt attacks

(CNN) - A top foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign stood by his argument Friday that this week's attacks on diplomatic posts in Libya and Egypt could have been averted if Romney were president.

Richard Williamson, a former assistant secretary of state under the Ronald Reagan administration, said Romney's policies would have led to better standing for the United States among countries that saw uprisings in the last couple years.

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"A Romney administration would be there, would be more active trying to work with civil society, with reformer movements, so we would be partners in this evolution, not running behind," Williamson said on CNN's "Starting Point."

He specifically mentioned a lack of government involvement in the Tahrir Square protests of 2011, which ultimately led to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Regarding Libya, Williamson argued the U.S. should have been more active in "reconciliation and reconstruction" efforts in Libya after the U.S. joined a multi-state coalition that took military action against Libyan forces.

His comments come after Williamson told the Washington Post "there's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation."

He argued on CNN that Romney would have known security should have been heightened on Sept. 11 at all American consulates and embassies, saying there were "symbolic reasons to be concerned about the safety of our people."

The Republican presidential nominee has come under fire recently while trying to prove his foreign policy chops. He especially drew criticism after blasting the Obama administration, somewhat prematurely, over Tuesday night's attacks.

Defending his stance Friday morning at a fund-raising event in New York City, Romney said "there have been over the years, confusing messages sent by the president of the United States to the world."

Giving a specific example, he painted the president as weak during the 2009 protests in Iran, also known as the "Green Revolution," saying President Barack Obama "had nothing to say that sent a message to the world" and faulting him for not giving direct assistance to the demonstrators.

Half-a-year into his first term in 2009, Obama issued statements and condemned violence against protesters but not did lead or call for U.S. intervention in Iran's post-election unrest.

Williamson argued Obama lacks in leadership worldwide, and the attacks on American missions this week are "part of a pattern where (the attackers) see less resolve and strength of the United States."

The adviser, who also served as a former ambassador to the United Nations, further made the point that the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya this week marked the first assassination of an ambassador since Jimmy Carter.

"I do think Governor Romney has a view of the Middle East that is stable and secure–where people's dignity and pluralism and economic opportunity are recognized (and) can be achieved," Williamson said. "But it has to be achieved with United States leadership, and United States leadership from the front, not behind."

– CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • Egypt • Foreign Policy • Libya • Mitt Romney
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Wake up People!

    I lost my good job in September 08, it's President Obama's fault. Yeah I know he wasn't elected yet but.......

    September 14, 2012 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  2. vis8

    Hillary Clinton's favorite aide, and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin (and Muslim Brotherhood member) has duped Obama and Clinton into supporting jihadis in the Mid East. And, Obama and Hillary Clinton have blindly supported jihadis like al-quaeda into power for the first time: Egypt, Libya and soon in Syria....

    The results of Obama's short-sighted "foreign policy" is showing itself, under very bright lights, for everyone to see.

    Four more years of Obama????????

    September 14, 2012 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  3. MS

    Can you imagine the kind of backlash John Kerry would've received from Republicans if one of his advisers blamed Bush for something like this?

    September 14, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "Hillary Clinton's favorite aide, and deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin (and Muslim Brotherhood member) has duped Obama and Clinton into supporting jihadis in the Mid East. "

    Save yourself the time and energy and just type "DERP!!!!!!!!" from now on please.

    September 14, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  5. John

    What a joke this theory represents....When Mitt Romney visited England on his "coming out" trip to England, he offended the prime minister, and most of the citizenry.....when visiting Israel, he scheduled his main policy speech dinner during their holy day of fasting........these should have been slam dunk positive PR visits...and this guy thinks Romney would further a better relationship in the tinderbox middle east.....He basically just does not know when to open his mouth and when he does, he generally offends someone........just does not have what it takes to be president.....

    September 14, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  6. The REAL Truth...

    @Bob – Are you Obama lovers really still drinking the cool aid? If this man gets re elected our economy will fall apart. Our debt will keep ballooning and our dollar will be worthless. Look at gas prices over $4 a gallon and heading to $5. Obama and the Fed are spending money like its not his.
    --------------------------------
    Boy, ignorance certainly is bliss. The economy was TANKING when Obama inherited it.. lots of VERIFIABLE evidence to support that – if you WANT to find it.
    Hmmm.. gas prices at over $4 ??? Where ?? The highest Average US gas price in history was in July 2008 (during Dubya's regime BTW) at $4.11 – even Fox News stated that the POTUS has literally NO CONTROL over gas prices. You must have missed that gem. Today the national avg. price is $3.87.

    And – the Fed has nothing to do with Federal Govt spending. The Fed is a PRIVATE group of 12 major banks that oversees the control of the US Money supply. They are an independent entity.
    PLEASE GET EDUCATED before parroting right wing lemming food.

    September 14, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  7. Howard

    On Obama’s watch, the Islamists have done very well. They have taken over Egypt and are set to take over Syria and its chemical weapons arsenal without a change in US policy. They look ahead to the day U.S. forces leave Afghanistan—which Obama has conveniently announced to them. And in the country where modern Islamism first came to life at the nation-state level, Iran, the government is set to gain a nuclear weapons capability—another Obama legacy.

    September 14, 2012 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. voter in ct

    Does anyone know why Romney didn't serve in Vietnam? He was the right age.

    September 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. Wake up People!

    Their campaign is doomed. Doubling and tripling down on their lies.... Americans cannot be this stupid.....

    September 14, 2012 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  10. Lynda/Minnesota

    @rob:

    Use your head, man. All this bickering back and forth only adds to the security risks in the Middle East. I could care less who you support ... or why. Bottom line is, a candidate running for President DOES NOT use civil unrest and tension to score political points especially not WHILE THE TENSIONS ARE STILL AT MAXIMUM levels.

    Your other talking points are nothing but worthless babble coming from a person to willing to support a candidate without any knowledge whatsoever what that candidate stands for. Indeed, your own party is begging Mitt Romney to give a clear and concise vision of his plans, be it foreign or national.

    As President, Obama is fully aware of just how difficult it is to negotiate with a government still in it's infancy. It's something Mitt Romney ought to understand, and doesn't. Nor do you.

    September 14, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. SafeJourney

    John, you have a point there. just wait till the U.S. government gets ahold of the guy that made the movie. Which btw, he lied to the actors about who the film was about.. Anyway, Just wait till the U.S. government gets the guy that made the film and see who funded his disgusting production

    September 14, 2012 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  12. Canuck

    Never has an American president been shown so little respect by the opposition. It's really shameful.

    September 14, 2012 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  13. Bob

    Have you people seen what is going on around the world. They are attacking us. There are reports the State Department had information that the attacks in Libia were going to happen and Obama did nothing. You bet Obama is doing a great job. Not!

    September 14, 2012 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  14. bbrooker88

    ... this post from Mack is so spot on it's worth a repeat!! Well said!!

    "Sorry Neocons, no more wars for you. We already have 2 that we are still paying for with no help from the elite, like Romney who supports war but doesn't want to fight in them or help pay for them."

    September 14, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  15. Rico Sauve

    The hatred from the crazy right caused this problem! Their hate has caused the death of several good people. I can not vote for a Republican!

    September 14, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  16. B.

    Mr. Romney just showed us his 3;00 A.M. decision making judgement and should not be allowed to get anywhere near the White House!

    Shoot from the mouth Romney and his -empty wagon cohort Ryan are a reckless pair and not a stable solution to deal with this dangerous World environment.

    September 14, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  17. v_mag

    "He argued on CNN that Romney would have known security should have been heightened on Sept. 11..."
    --
    ...just like his predecessor, Geo. W. Bush knew to be on the lookout for a major terrorist attack 11 years ago, I guess? Romney is so wonderful that he'll be able to control hate groups and individuals around the world with his little finger, always do everything perfectly, and give us all ice cream on Sundays. I mean, Rob-money has shown us so much in the way of expertise, like his trip (and I do mean trip) overseas, where he offended friend and foe alike. And he shot from the hip on the Libya thing so badly that he had to double-down on dumb just to try and BS his way out of it.

    Total incompetence would be hallmark of any Rob-money administration. Thankfully, that will never happen.

    September 14, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  18. jk

    Amen, Sniffit

    September 14, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  19. Lynda/Minnesota

    Bob

    Have you people seen what is going on around the world. They are attacking us. There are reports the State Department had information that the attacks in Libia were going to happen and Obama did nothing. You bet Obama is doing a great job. Not!
    -----------

    Have you seen the articles stating Bush had information that the attack on 9/11 was going to happen and he did nothing. You bet Bush did a great job. Not!

    Enough of the nonsense ... please.

    September 14, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  20. Larry L

    As this wold crisis spreads Romney's handlers see it only as a chance to score political points. It reminds me of President Richard Nixon prolonging the end of the Vietnam War so he could end it at a politically advantageous time. Romney's complete lack of class is obvious to all. I remember other Republican candidates who actually supported the sitting President in times of crisis. They weren't spoiled brats who only want the job for a "power rush".

    September 14, 2012 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  21. Expat American

    Instead of unity after such a sad tragedy; the Romney campaign is attacking and falsely blaming. When you think Romney and Ryan can't stoop any lower, they do.

    September 14, 2012 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  22. LegalizeReason

    This a "Senior" foreign policy advisor? America, if you elect this WIngnut it will another round of Cowboy Diplomacy so get ready to send your (but not their) sons and daughter in harm's way and throw away any chance of getting our fiscal house in order. Doesn't anyone remember 2000 through 2008?

    September 14, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney's initial remarks were very inflammatory. He pretty much dismissed the idea of freedom of religion, which the Cairo embassy's message espoused, and promoted religious intolerance.

    September 14, 2012 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  24. kevin

    Sure is a lot of anger out there. When you are a leader you must decide what is important and what is not. You can keep campaigning or head back to DC to take charge. Apparently he decided he could to both by letting others monitor the situation and letting him know what is going on. Hence the problem with who is an "ally".

    September 14, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
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