September 12th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
11 years ago

Are Romney's comments on Libya a 2012 game changer?

(CNN) - Mitt Romney's decision to comment on the diplomatic attacks in the Middle East is revealing a split among Republicans who differ over the GOP nominee's remarks on the violence.

"Too quick to politicize over faulty reporting initially. Too quick to politicize (the) death of foreign service officers. Makes him appear not ready," is how one top adviser to John McCain's 2008 campaign put it to CNN.

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But other Republican strategists felt emboldened by Romney's swift and severe condemnation of how the administration's handling of the crisis.

"This could be a game changer," GOP strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos said. "Romney has to go at this and make it clear that he is doing it not for political gain but because weak, apologetic leadership is dangerous for the country."

Castellanos was an adviser to Romney during the 2008 presidential campaign, but does not work for the candidate in 2012.

Late last night, Romney released a statement that was initially embargoed until midnight in keeping with the campaign's decision to avoid political attacks on the president on September 11th. But within minutes the embargo was lifted.

"It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," Romney said in the statement.

Romney later explained at a morning news conference he was referring to a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that condemned a filmmaker for mocking Islam. However, the embassy's statement came out before the violence erupted. (The embassy confirmed the statement on Twitter after the walls of the embassy were breached.)

In response to questions from reporters about whether he had commented too soon in his initial statement, before the confirmation of the death of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, Romney called the queries a "hypothetical." He noted the administration backed away from the Embassy's statement.

"They clearly sent mixed messages to the world," Romney said.

Other Republican leaders took a more cautious approach in their statements on the violence.

"Eleven years after September 11, this is a jolting reminder that freedom remains under siege by forces around the globe who relish violence over free expression, and terror over democracy," Boehner said in the statement.

Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney
soundoff (168 Responses)
  1. PTNY

    Game changer...yes.

    Divine intervention...

    I thank GOD for Romney's Leadership in bringing down the entire Republican Party!

    September 12, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  2. McShannon

    Mitt Romney and the GOP have displayed such naive and immature ramblings attempting to get a handhold for attention that they have slipped into the TWILIGHT zone.

    September 12, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  3. looneysam

    It makes me sick to my stomach to read some of the comments here. Slanderous and uncalled for, some just plain hateful. Hypocrites.

    September 12, 2012 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  4. j.b.parker

    Let me say that Romney has shown today that he speaks for every American I know that we are tired of this week apologizing President.

    September 12, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  5. Critical Thinker

    Mitt's secret foreign policy method...Fire! Aim! Ready!

    September 12, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    For once I agree with McCain's advisers. Mitt Romney is not ready (to become President).

    September 12, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  7. Bart

    I do not see where the President, or anyone in the Administration was apologizing or appeasing. I know that has been the label they are trying to stick on Obama, but I just cannot see it. I gave a hard look at Romney, but he is just too amateurish. It seems the tougher Romney tries to talk, the weaker it makes him appear. I will end up voting for Obama.

    September 12, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    I'm just a citizen but even I know that a Presidential candidate does not comment on an evolving dangerous foreign incident that the US is actively investigating. If you feel it is really necessary to speak please pay attention to the sequence of events. In addition, let us all remember that our Freedom of Speech needs to be understood in the context of newly evolving democracies. It isn't an error to express regrets to moderate Muslims that at times Our Right to Freedom of Expression can be very offensive.
    I'm a Florida Independent and I am concerned about the "knee jerk" reaction of Mr. Romney. For example, if he is elected will he use inflammatory language regarding Iran and just jump into another War? He makes me nervous.
    My sincere condolences to the families of our fallen diplomatic corp.

    September 12, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  9. Jb

    It is time someone speaks up-good job mitt romney

    September 12, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. najie2

    Be cautious. Years from now, we will come to realize that there was some medical reason WHY Mitt The Twit was behaving this way during the 2012 election campaign.

    September 12, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Rudy NYC

    FactCheck pointed out:

    Clint's empty chair is starting to look like a viable candidate to the Republicans right about now
    You've got a point. The chair did get the longest and loudest applause from the crowd.

    September 12, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. Adam

    Romney screwed up here. The initial statement was from staff at the embassy, not the administration. But even that first release condemned the attacks at the same time it condemned a film whose intent was to insult people of a differing faith in violation of the principles of equality and respect and freedom for all that this nation stands for.

    No, the mistake here was 100% Romney's. The initial response wasn't weak, it was strong and stood for our beliefs. It was Romney who came out looking like a simpleton who doesn't understand what really happened and just reacts with anger and violence. As a Republican, I can't vote for this man.

    September 12, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. nocas

    it shows Romney person insterest, personal gain, this is who he is, this is what bain is about, how can I gain/make money from this? In this case, how can I take political advantage from this? Be president is not thinking about personal gain, is thinking about a country, about all americans and measure carefully your words since you do not rule the world or other countris. Arrogancy never serve the world your US any good!

    September 12, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. Sheryl

    I am a republican and the making of this tradegy into a political issue disgusted me. At one point, I wondered if Mitt Romney was actually happy that this tradegy happened. A man who lacks the understanding of "American" issues versus "Republican vs Democrat" issues has no business being president. I have decided that I am simply not going to vote during this election. I don't care for Obama's policies but I think it is wiser to stick with Obama versus Romney.

    September 12, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  15. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    Why are people so surprised Mittens shot his mouth off before he had the facts? Have you forgotten how he totally miffed his trip to the Olympics and Europe?

    The guy's a walking disaster area!

    September 12, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  16. roadkilled

    I'm sure that America can survive a Romney Presidency. Not so sure we WANT TO!

    September 12, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    And there he is folks...waving goodbye to his POTUS hopes in the photo above.

    September 12, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  18. Bobby Bhakta

    Can you spell full panic mode.

    September 12, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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