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. V

    Romney just lost the election . . .

    September 12, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  2. FactCheck

    No, because there is no game to change. Mitt's campaign has been playing checkers while the adults are playing chess. His campaign was done after the convention.

    September 12, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  3. superlogi

    When want to condemn an activity, condemn it. When you want to make excuses for an activity excuse it. But don't do them both at the same time. Many people won't be able to figure out what the message is.

    September 12, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  4. LegalizeReason

    This guy is clearly not ready to sit at the grown-up's table. Don't put our people abroad at risk for your own selfish, political motives.

    September 12, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  5. maf

    Alex, I appreciate that it is your job to provide excuses for your Republican nominee, but seriously. . . stop allowing Romney a free pass. President Obama is certainly NOT providing weak, apologetic leadership. Romney jumped the gun and even the GOP professed foreign policy guru – John McCain, has stated that he was too quick to comment.
    This is just dangerous in the international arena. Romney's ship is sinking fast. Maybe time to jump off like so many others.

    September 12, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  6. Diplome

    A game changer in the fact that this probably cost Mr. Romney the election. His use of a crisis, while still in progress, for political gain, is simply inappropriate in the extreme. To do this against the man that most American's will trust to bring these individuals to justice is simply stupidity.

    September 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  7. Bill

    No game change here – he still loses in November by almost 100 electoral votes. Let him spout all he wants.

    September 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  8. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Remember, guys, Willard is using the same team that advised Dubya in his quest to understand foreign policy. The only one missing is Paul Wolfowitz!

    September 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  9. Howard

    Unlike obama ... Mitt Romney has the guts to stand up for what's right.

    America is supposed to be a FREE country, where ALL people have the FREEDOM to speak and express themsellves. We should be inviting the rest of the world to share in our freedoms ... but, weak fools, think we should allow Muslim thugs, kill, harm, terrorize and intimidate film makers (Theo Van Gogh), authors (Solomon Rushti), cartoonists (Kurt Westergarrd), as well as the countless people who choose a different religion, or disagree with these monsters in any other way. Unfortunately, idiots, blame the victims ... instead of the perpetrators.

    September 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  10. Jermaine

    To turn the lost of four of America's servants into a political talking point does not show the world that we are united in threats against this nation. Romney, you’re a candidate, not the President of the United States. Stay in your place until America decides your fate!

    September 12, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  11. Loveuspolitics

    Mitt is just as insensitve as they come, anything to discredit obama, he talks before he thinks 90% of the time and in most of those he has no clue what he talking about , on to etch a skatch, retreate and contradict himself later! Oh boy, we can only imagine how he would handle things if he ever gets elected. No common sense and common decency what so ever.

    September 12, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  12. JJK

    When the President of the United States speaks, he speaks for all Americans not just his political critics. In doing so he needs to be briefed on the facts of the incident before opening his mouth. He demonstrated this practice with the Bin Laden release. It is obvious that the Romney campaign has no regard for fact checking before seizing a political wedge to use against the President. Good people in service to America have died, therefore the Romney campaign should have let the President speak for the nation and save the rhetoric for a more appropriate time.

    September 12, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    With Bush we got "Cowboy Diplomacy." With Mittens we get 'Yosemite Sam Cartoon Diplomacy."

    September 12, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. Indy

    "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.

    And this is exactly why no one wants Retroactive Romney to get anywhere near those red buttons,where you can't blame everything on someone else and retime and redate your comments.Romney and Ryan are amateurs that pose a great danger if given power

    September 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. ExRepublican

    Romney is disgrace to our country.. Please dont vote for Romney he will send us back to war.
    Ryan is a teabagger who dont like middle class or poor people.

    September 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Paul

    Romney is such an amateur.

    September 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  17. incredulous

    This should be another nail in the coffin for Romney's campaign.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    We are beginning to see why Romney was a failed governor of MA. He is not very bright.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Pat

    When you have a President (through his Ambassador, who under international law is the same person as the President) who says that he sympathizes with those who attack our embassies and personnel, and states that free speech in the United States should be made illegal, then I think immediate action and comment is imperative.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. JustAO

    If they mean game changer as in looking like Bush 'let's go to war' campaign of 2001, then yes, the game will again be lost by GOP.

    Is it me or did Romney learn anything from McCain defeat in 2008?

    Showing how anti-muslim your party is didn't work in 2008 & it especially won't work in 2012 where our demographics have changed alot.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  21. Common sense grandma

    happybrownman: try to get your facts straight. The "media" has nothing to do with the hate-filled video that stems to have prompted the violence. That film maker has gone into hiding while others pay the price for his free speech. President Obama correctly identified the fact that Niki Menaj was being sarcastic and not really offering support for Romney and she thanked him for "getting it."

    September 12, 2012 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  22. Lynda/Minnesota

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

    September 12, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  23. Rudy NYC

    I've lost count. This is "Mitt Romney Self Inflicted Injury" number.....what?

    September 12, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  24. Charles

    Romney get an F = Foolish!!! And the republican party believes this man can lead us for 4 years, when he couldn't wait to get facts before making such an asnine statement. Everyday this man opens his mouth and he puts his foot right in it.

    September 12, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  25. alicia

    Willard is disgraceful... this is actual live events .. real time danger that affects american and american troops... not another day for you to troll your way into the office you've been running for 20 years now.

    September 12, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
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