Richardson, Gingrich spar over candidates' foreign policy strengths
October 21st, 2012
10:40 AM ET
6 years ago

Richardson, Gingrich spar over candidates' foreign policy strengths

(CNN) - Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich both said Sunday that Libya is a strong point of contention on foreign policy - the subject of Monday night's presidential debate - but argued over which candidate has more leverage on the topic.

Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," Gingrich said the Obama administration's handling of last month's attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which resulted in the deaths of four Americans, will be a tough record to defend.

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In last week's debate, President Barack Obama took responsibility for the security of State Department personnel, saying ultimately the buck stops at his desk. "That's why nobody's more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do," the president said.

Gingrich pointed to Obama's words and criticized the lack of robust security at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, adding the whole episode represents a larger narrative of the president's foreign policy track.
"If we can't figure out what went on in a relatively open city in a country we had helped liberate, why do we think we know what's going on with Iran's nuclear program?" the former Republican presidential candidate said.

He continued: "I think you can go country by country and see some of the fraying at the edges of the Obama policy."

Richardson, however, described GOP nominee Mitt Romney as being unprepared for the Oval Office, specifically citing his widely criticized initial response to the violence. Romney's campaign put out a statement the night of the Libya consulate attack, as well as the breaching of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. The following morning, Romney held a press conference, attacking Obama on foreign policy. Democrats and some Republicans criticized the response as one that was hastily made.

"Gov. Romney just seems to be bluster, blunder, cowboy-alone foreign policy," Richardson, a Democrat, told CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley. "I'm troubled at this time when we had the Benghazi crisis, he's trying to make political gain."

The former governor, who also served U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, argued Obama had made progress in the Middle East in the last four years, pointing to the killing of Osama bin Laden and renewed military focus on Afghanistan.

Richardson said the president has a major "advantage when it comes to foreign policy."

Filed under: 2012 • Bill Richardson • Libya • Mitt Romney • Newt Gingrich • President Obama • Presidential Debates
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Anne

    Mr. Richardson, since you supported Obama against Hillary, I don't give a damn about your opinion.You are irrelevant. Of course Mr. Obama will say again tomorrow that he is 'offended' and what happened in Libya wasn't 'optimal'. "That's why nobody's more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do," the president said. Wow.. but maybe the families of those who died are more interested than you are?

    October 21, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  2. Anonymous

    Hey, folks. Want to know what is wrong will America ... look at Gingrich. He is nothing but a foul mouthed lout who bamboozled millions of Americans into thinking he actually stood for something other than himself and his pocketbook. There are so many "me, me, me" GOP personalities running around America these days one wonders why they are continually heralded as "somebody" in the media and the Republican establishment.

    Peas in a Pod comes to mind.

    October 21, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  3. Donkey Party

    The GOP's insistence on politicizing the Benghazi attack will surely backfire. It takes total lack of compassion and intelligence, as well as extreme desperation to deploy such a tactic. But what else would one expect from Republicans, who are the most pathetic, ignorant, racist, morally corrupt creatures to roam in society?

    October 21, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  4. Theresa

    Are we truly trying to get to the bottom of this issue & fix the problem and bring whoever did this to justice or is everything in this country political driven?? I wonder how the families of those that were killed feel knowing that their family members death is a political game to both republicans & democratics. All this back-n-forth is crazy. I don't see either party genuinely concerning themselves with the true issue. Everyone & their surrogates & all the people that post on this blog is looking to point blame and are not truly concern about the lives lost. If they were, they would not be as catty as they are.

    October 21, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  5. Rob


    Send your sons to war I am sure Romney wont. He will say he is not and change his mind. No attacks on this soil I can care less about the middle east. Remember September 11?

    October 21, 2012 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  6. Planner922

    I am deeply offended that the GOP is so eager to find something wrong with the President that they forget what has been a very well established tradition of "politics stops at the border."
    We are one nation Romney. When you try to tear down our Foreign Policy, you are not doing yourself favors. And the laughable idea of having "hearings" with only one Party present is not funny.

    October 21, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  7. Patchygroundfog

    Gov. Romney's foreign policy ideas: Start a trade war with China, a real war with Iran, be Israel's unquestioning sidekick even when Israel is wrong while alienating the rest of the Middle East, make sure that $2 trillion hike in defense spending benefits wealthy friends with hardware to sell, always shoot first in a kneejerk response to world events with no grasp of global complexity, and get a war-weary nation's sons and daughters killed needlessly while his own kids stay home practicing their short putting game in the Rose Garden. Give me a screwup in Libya that cost four lives and is being addressed to make sure it doesn't happen again (balanced against the superb Obama prosecution of the War on Terror) versus the Carnage of Romney Unleashed on the World any time. Another easy choice when comparing candidates ...

    October 21, 2012 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  8. Larry in Houston

    They've been attacking embassy's all over the mid east, not to mention all over the world, for years and years. This isn't anything new. Under Bush – under Reagan / under Clinton / embassies have been attacked all over the world.

    May the Best Man Win – 2012
    Hillary – 2016 (with a "surplus" in – – 2018 )

    October 21, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  9. vic , nashville ,tn

    Candy you did a good job in the debate, I totally disagree with right wing criticism
    As a reporter Candy always stay away from Lou Dobbs controversial questions
    She always says up to the voters

    Foreign policy goes to democrats

    October 21, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  10. anonoymous

    Libya....Im tired of hearing about Libya. I have the deepest sympathy for the lives that were lost. I believe this was a tragedy and an act of terror. BUT is not the first time something like this has happen or will it be the last. 9/11 occurred on GWBs watch. Now the world has to protect every federal bldg monument govt facility you name it. How is anybody suppose to protect every nuck and cranny we you dont know where these nuts will attack! Where is the same outrage at home grown terrorism? Columbine Oklahoma city bombing Aurora....People as american why are we so divided on this when we should be united as a nation! Who among us really believes that we dont take care of our own. Do you think our troops past our present care about politics while they were/are fighting for our rights to bicker like children? Cover up? I dont really know but I do know our govt cares about it's citizens safety. Newt needs to realize he lost and he wont be president ever! Quit making this political and dividing our nation.

    October 21, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  11. Anonymous

    "Wow.. but maybe the families of those who died are more interested than you are?"

    Wow. Maybe you forgot who was on watch September 11, 2001? Many died back then as well. These incidents go back decades...during both Democratic and Republican Administrations. I suspect we'll have a few more even if Romney were to become president - which he won't.

    October 21, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. 2020

    Anne, if your closed mind, bold headed. Leave yourself out of this discussion.

    President Obama has a foreign policy second to none. You don't need to add one word to it.

    Enermy try to attack, of course, they try every day. When Reagan in office, Beiruit embassy was bombed killed far more American than that was in Bengaze. American President always rise above all the smoke and yaking, get to the bottom of the incidence and strengthen protection.

    Don't be a small mind, silly goose.

    October 21, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  13. onlyfacts

    When you attack our foreign policies you also attack the integrity of our military leaders. We do not live under a dictatorship. Obama does not get (or take) all responsibility in getting rid of several top Al Queda leaders. And he shouldn't take or receive all the blame for the Libya killings. The right is politicizing this only because of the outstanding job done so far. They are scum.

    October 21, 2012 11:35 am at 11:35 am |
  14. Stephen Bibb

    Here is the way GOP work. Make a mountain out of a molehill and blow it up bigger than life. For example the Libya controversy. They want the american people to buy in to some notion the president has a crystal ball and can't see the future and predict what these radical nut jobs in these muslim countries will do. I find it pretty debasing they can try to make a case against the president over what happened in Libya. People are not that stupid.

    October 21, 2012 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  15. nina

    as has already been is very sad that the rebups are trying to advance political gain over this tradegy....and least we forget all the US embassies that were attacked under bush, clinton, reagon etc... and the biggest tradegy of 911......on US soil? where were these republicans in 2001 asking about security & intelligence? oh wait....they lied for months & months about WMD (weapons of mass destruction) to go to war in Iraq which costs thousands of lives. Want to know why the economy tanked? two unpaid wars that the obama administration is still trying to clean up. And you all think romney 'mr stick-my-foot-in-my-mouth' will add more peace & resolution to & for your country? really? yes he sure should leadership in london, isreal, and in the US the day after the libya should be so proud and look forward to many more mis-steps if you elect him....oh and another war which by the way....his sons will not serve in

    October 21, 2012 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  16. Wire Palladin, S. F

    It would seem to me that it would be harder for the republican chicken hawks to explain the Bush failures of 9-11-2001, and the war in Iraq that led to over 8000 American deaths (3000 on 9-11 and 5000 in Iraq), over one hundred thousand Iraqi civilians deaths, the hundreds of deaths due to terrorist attacks under Bush, and Bush and the republicans dropping the ball in Afghanistan that led to thousands more Americans killed.

    October 21, 2012 11:41 am at 11:41 am |
  17. Stephen Bibb

    Mitt Romney cannot provide specifics on what he will do to fix the disparity between women rights to equal pay because he doesn't care about equal rights for women period.

    Mitt Romney cannot provide specifics regarding his massive tax cuts because he has no intentions of reducing taxes on middle class Americans. He is going to cut taxes for the wealthy which is what he ran on for years and he will gut the federal government in the name of Fed Debt. He will allow corporations to continue to ship millions of jobs overseas.

    October 21, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  18. Stephen Bibb

    How can anyone trust a man that cannot keep the same position on ANY issue. Mitt Romney is dishonest as a man can get.

    October 21, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  19. Anonymous

    "I believe this was a tragedy and an act of terror."

    Act of terror = terrorism. Unless of course you are Republican. Specifically a FOX NEWS Republican. But, I agree with your full comment 100%.

    October 21, 2012 11:48 am at 11:48 am |
  20. ColoradoJoe

    it is a sorry state when the republicans would rather the US soldiers protect and scour the Afghanistan country than have the Afghanistan soldiers do it. From what has been reported, there are enough Afghanistan soldiers to do the high terrain where they know it better than the US forces.

    October 21, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  21. Thomas

    The death toll from fungal meningitis linked to potentially contaminated steroid injections has risen by two to 23.

    Newt could blame the President for this too.
    Thank God for the GOP , Big Phama and Deregulation !

    October 21, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  22. Moon base to Newt: Come in. Static

    I look forward to the day this man (Newt) is no longer asked to give his opinion on anything. Terrorist attacks have and will continue to happen no matter who is president. If evil people wish to do evil deeds, they WILL find a way. Politicizing Benghazi helps no one. Period. Those who do, I respect less and less and less......

    October 21, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  23. Jessie P.

    I thought women did not like to be fooled by men or lied to by men.......they showed on many of the networks today how Mitt Romney out of his own mouth has said "he would not tax the wealthy" but in the debates have said the opposite, "how he has layed off many people to outsourse their jobs overseas and he himself made millions" but now says the opposite on the campaign trails, how he has said "he wants to get rid of social security and medicare and pre-existing conditions and leave it up to the insurance companies to decide if they will dump you or charge you outrageous fees" but says the opposite in a debate or on a campaign trail.and the list goes on and on and on and you will see out of his own mouth and his own actions he will never be for anyone who is poor or middle class. Romney simply does not care......these are the facts. Please join me and my registered Republican female friends and vote for Obama. Don't let Mitt Romney lie and make a fool of smart and set a good example for your for Obama!

    October 21, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  24. Just a thought

    What a tired old womanizer! disgusting and offensive only partially describes the tea party thuggery as they knuckle drag their racism in this country

    October 21, 2012 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  25. Gary

    Candy Crowley, in President Obama's address to assignation of US ambassador in the rose garden three key points were made.

    1. Approximately 23 – 31 seconds into address, Mr Obama said "yesterday four of these extraordinary Americans were killed in an attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi". Note he only said ATTACK

    2. Approximately 54 – 59 seconds into address, Mr Obama said "the United States condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack." again only used the word ATTACK.

    3. Approximately 1:09 seconds into the address, Mr Obama said "and make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan Government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people" only used words KILLERS and ATTACK.

    Point is that Candy should get her facts straight! Your opinion matters but not in a Presidential debate. Please be more objective next time and let them debate. Obama is missing important opportunities and putting America's lives in harm due to his lack of involvement in the Middle East. He only said "act of terror" ONCE... At the end of his address... More importantly he NEVER said this was an attack by Al Qaeda terrorists. Apparently Al Quaeda is not dead. All Americans should question why Omama failed to say this was an attack by Al Qaeda terrorists...

    October 21, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
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