September 12th, 2012
01:40 PM ET
10 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. CWilson

    Yes. Romney's comments were swift, sure and unwavering. Obama's was leading from BEHIND again. Reacting instead of acting. Meanwhile, he's off fundraising in Vegas. No big stick for Obama again today.

    September 12, 2012 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |

    "They clearly sent mixed messages to the world,"
    And you hopped on it like a dog in heat. Quick to criticize without having all of the FACTS. You are not fit to be Commander-In-Chief.

    September 12, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  3. Tim

    Here is the question Romney needs to answer, "In you statements it appear you blame President Obama for the death of the ambassador, do you believe he is responsible by sending mixed messages?"

    September 12, 2012 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    Mitt Romney is not fit to become President of the United States. That he would try and make political hay over the death of American citizens is beyond contempt.

    September 12, 2012 01:45 pm at 1:45 pm |
  5. DC from NJ

    Romney has no clue; he's a total amateur. The same is obviously true of his running mate. Keep them as far away from the White House as possible.

    September 12, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  6. Rosslaw

    Mittens and his ilk are praying for a terrorist attack in the United States that kills thousands-praying for it.

    September 12, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  7. NickAnast

    Rmoney's comments border on treason.

    September 12, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Castellanos thought hmed Abdel Hadi Chalabi was a hero !

    The top adviser to John McCain's 2008 campaign is right , Romney is just a reactionary sound bite leader .

    September 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  9. gbuddha2012

    Odious, self serving, and evil... every American should recoil from Romney's words

    September 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  10. TY

    Romney is toast.......Unfit Mitt please go home and count your money.........

    September 12, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  11. Expat American

    Romney's comments were more like 'Game Over'.

    September 12, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  12. happybrownman

    For Obama to apologize for content coming from our free media is an insult to our constitutional rights for free speech. He also tried to mute Nicki Minaj earlier this week. There is nothing to apologize for. We are allowed to insult, debate and say what they want - that is the purpose of free speech. I think Romney's stance was a good one. Why should we apologize when they have attacked us? and now it seems it was in a premeditated fashion having nothing to do with the film!!

    September 12, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  13. Dominican mama 4 Obama

    "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
    Oh yeah, absolutely he should do this, that will only leave wiredweird, Really? Four and the Door, myviewisscrewed, and Foul is Foul voting for him.

    September 12, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  14. mary_saff

    As an independent voter, I am disgusted to see what Mitt Romney has done. Without even knowing all the facts, even before president or Secretary of States talks, he just shoot the gnu to gain some political advantage. Does he or his campaign thinks that we are idiot not to realize how desperate he is. Show some sign of respect for Americans and for those who are dead. This just shows how selfish he is to use this opportunity for his own benefit. How much do you want it, Mitt? Do you sell your mom to become a president too? I am disgusted by such responses.

    September 12, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  15. wgf

    "weak, apologetic leadership is dangerous for the country."

    Seriously, you're going to say this about the guy who invaded another country to take out Bin Laden, has killed most of the Al Queada leadership residing in other countries, and Mommar Gadaffi - all without losing a single American life ?

    The GOP really needs to start living in the real world, instead of just recycling the oldies but goodies.

    As for the comments themselves, they were premature, ill-conceived, badly timed, self serving. The GOP will not win of foreign policy.

    September 12, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  16. J.p.

    Sounds like boehner is coyly co-signing mitt romney's profoundly damaging statement. Mitt pulled the trigger too fast and ended up shooting himself in the foot. Boehner continues to bone America. Ohio must vote this scumbag out

    September 12, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  17. angienc

    Yeah, it isn't Obama's policy of appeasement in the ME that is the problem here; it's all the fault of Romney's statement coming out 1.5 hours too soon (10:30 p.m. instead of midnight).
    Also, US Embassy in Cairo reaffirmed earlier statement AFTER violence started - how come CNN doesn't mention that in story?

    September 12, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  18. M Garr

    I keep thinking about that 3:00am call at the White House.
    I don't want it to be Mr. Romney who answers.

    September 12, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  19. Not my American Values

    Instead of standing behind the America President after a national tragedy, Romney gives us talking points written by PR flacks on how to attack and blame the President for this senseless act of violence against our country. Is this that sad state of American politics? I say ENOUGH! Sorry, Mr. Romney, you will never have my vote. You can wrap it all up with an America values bow, but it's just plain wrong and I'm not buying what you are selling. The values you display are not my American values. Whether you agree with the President or not, he is our President and we should stand together against our enemies. You, sir, are not qualified to be our President.

    September 12, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  20. CStrater

    Bin Laden is dead. How's that for a firm response?

    September 12, 2012 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  21. v_mag

    There is no doubt about Rob-money's intent. He is desperate and trying to grab headlines by attacking the President. He shot from the hip to impress his supporters, and in contradiction to what is best for the country.

    Overseas, his comments will be viewed as sabre-rattling against Islamic countries in a time when measured and sane remarks are in order. Those folks will prepare to hate America more if Rob-money is elected. They will not respect the U.S. but only hate it more.

    Rob-money's remarks poke a stick in the eye of all Muslims, and there is no way that can be a good thing for America. He is trying to inflame the situation to gain personal political advantage, and that is the worst thing he could do.

    September 12, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  22. justsayintitasiseeit

    Romney needs to sit down and shut up. In another hour he will have forgotten what he said. I AM NOT FOR OUR TROOPS GOING TO WAR AGAIN. They are tired, physically ill, mentally ill and need time to rest and recuperate. This needs to be handled with diplomacy and sanctions. When Romney and his 5 sons are ready to physically pick up a gun and put on the uniform of our soldiers then I may be willing to allow my sons to fight again. I don't think I will have to worry about that tho because Romney and his chicken sons will never bear arms for the freedoms we have in this country. Romney is a Twitt and Twitts are not presidential material.

    September 12, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  23. Swing State

    Romney "foot in mouth" Chief is too eager like an amateur. Every other day he's saying something controversial.

    September 12, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  24. Woman In California

    Willard proves more and more each day he's LOSING control. Clearly taking his talking points from anyone anti-Obama, never analyzing or caring if it's fact based or not. Salesman yes, president no. What a big mistake it would be to place him in the Oval Office, not only for America but for the world. We just can't allow this to happen.

    September 12, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  25. Sandy

    I'm sorry, but Americans already know how strong Obama is on foreign policy and that Romney has NO experience. Trying to portray the guy that got BIN LADEN (and how many of his #2's?) as weak is not going to work.

    September 12, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
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