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. Alvin

    The premise of jobs and the economy that Romney and the GOP are hanging their hats on is flawed; Most Americans do NOT blame the president for the jobs situation –that is the most important poll that pundits are overlooking. And the Libya comments further negatively cements his chances. The president is one of the strongest foreign policy presidents in history. Attacking him on leadership is a losing bid from the outset. The GOP is reaching blindly hoping there is a sliver of gold in the pan.

    September 12, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Bev

    Heck No. I did think they may be a bit too quick but I am reading CNN- a right leaning outlet will dress it up differently. Obama, in his 'wait and see' is really not showing any leadership here either. BOTH are playing the poilitcal and it is a chess match and there is yet to be a checkmate. The spin machines are in high gear- I'm looking above the crap and what each has done and accomplished in the past without caring about who did what with dogs, what anyones taxes show, who has or does not have a birth certificate, and the rest of the stuff has nothing to do with presiding. I have almost four years of good evidence to go by that negates words, speeches and rhetoric. The 'BEEF' is there.

    September 12, 2012 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  3. Lil Red

    Romney is totally unfit to lead our great nation. What an appalling statement!

    September 12, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  4. Regressive

    This only proves that Romney is not qualified to be POTUS. He would have us in a war with Egypt and Libya before having all the facts. We know from history that we do not need a POTUS that shoots first and asks questions later.

    September 12, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    ""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.""

    Translation; "This is a huge mistake and Mittens better spin this like a gyroscope or he's probably just lost the election. Here's my suggestion on how to spin it so it's no longer what he actually said, but something slightly more palatably that the predictably feckless and uncritical MSM will help him broadcast."

    September 12, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  6. Jay

    Is it just me, or did anyone else noticed Mitt's $h1t eating grin as he criticized the president over the death of the American diplomats. It is soo easy to stand in the side lines and criticize and offer unrealistic solutions after the fact. This is why I hate politicians so much. All they know how to do is spread poison about each other without offering and acting on any solutions.

    September 12, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. B Grant

    He is a poor excuse for a presidential candidate. I did not vote for him in MA and certainly will not this election. He wants to win at any cost even it involves pathological lying, stoking racism, flip flopping on every issue and suppressing votes. A real American.. NOT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Obama 2012!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 12, 2012 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. ElhannonVA

    Romney's comments were self serving and heartless. The families of the deceased had not even been notified, and he was politicizing their deaths. And he didn't even pass on condolences until his second statement.

    September 12, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  9. B.

    The real Game-changer is Romney himself being his own worst enemy, the more he speaks out of turn, the more he defeats himself over time.

    The Game is really over for him and I think he knows it now by flailing desperately at everything that comes up.
    The debates will make it obvious to all soon, if it isn’t already.

    September 12, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  10. Ex-GOP Con

    Gotta love Boehnor's commentary. So essentially after pumping trillions of our taxpayer dollars in Iraq after 9/11, violence is still there? don't say Boehnor? It's time to fire speaker Boehnor!

    September 12, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  11. alien

    Get a clue mitt, then come back in 4 years.

    September 12, 2012 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  12. I can no longer support Romney/Ryan

    This is the final straw. I can't do it anymore. I'm tired of putting my name on the line defending this man and the party. I've been a Republican a long time and have never felt this way. I watched the GOP convention down in Tampa and it felt like the party I used to be proud of had been taken over by aliens who had no idea what the GOP ever stood for. And then I watched the DNC convention with my wife, son and daughter and I actually snapped at my own son for him teasing me. I apologized to my boy and explained why I was so upset. My son smiled and said, "it's ok, Dad. Things will get better." I sure hope he's right.

    I'm not sure yet if I will vote for Obama or Virgil Goode (we live in VA). I definitely will not be voting for Romney or Cantor.

    September 12, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  13. Emius

    No... He's a flop flipper. tomorrow he will say he's for President Obama's decision

    September 12, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  14. BLF83

    Willard should keep his Mitt shut. He will say anything to pander even when it later proves to be so utterly ridiculous that he changes his tune and panders again. His statements bring him ever closer to the nadir that was W.

    September 12, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  15. Indy

    I made up my mind, Romney will not get vote.

    September 12, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  16. Susan Williams

    Why didnt Obama get out I front of the story instead of waiting, glad Romney had the guts to take charge and say what's true. Good grief it's like no one is allowed to say anything bad about Obama yet they crucified bush for years.

    September 12, 2012 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  17. livingston

    Loyal, true Americans join together in times of crisis. Political lines disappear when someone attacks America. You have shown your true colors. You are no true, loyal American Mr Romney. Your only desire is to undermine the country for your own gain.

    September 12, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  18. Jules

    I want to know how John McCain still supports this man for president! My respect for McCain just keeps diminishing and diminishing – pretty soon it is not going to matter to anyone that he was a war hero because in his old age honor and integrity seem to be lost to this man.

    September 12, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  19. Solo

    Romney's comments are an embarrassment to himself.
    Shame on you Mr. eternal candidate, one would have thought you knew better after so many years playing politics!

    September 12, 2012 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  20. XX

    Once again Romney shots first, get's the facts second. The statement he imagines contains an apology was'nt from Obama or The White House, it came from the ambassador in Cairo. He needs to explain what part of it was an apology. And on the subject of apologies. as an American I apologiize to every Muslim that a fellow American made such an offensive film, I apologize that an American preacher promoted it. And I apologize to Great Britian for the stupidy and rudeness of my fellow American, known to you as Mitt The Twit, while a visitor in your country recently.

    September 12, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  21. McShannon

    GOP so much an image of puppies wanting attention desperately and clumsily they wade into situations to emphasize their presence, yet only continue to prove how really inept they are.

    September 12, 2012 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  22. William

    My understanding of the timeline is:
    1. Crowd gathers at US embassy in Cairo, inflamed by a film that most agree is disrespectful of Prophet Mohammed
    2. The Cairo office issues a statement condemning the film to deter violence
    3. Cairo demonstrators breach the embassy wall, but no loss of lives was incurred
    4. US embassy in Bengazhi is burnt down, Ambassador Stevens and 3 of his staffs were killed
    5. Mitt Romney criticizes the Obama Administration for apologizing for American values
    5. President Obama recognizes the film was offensive and condemns the attack on American embassy within the same speech.

    So Romney was criticizing the Cairo staff for apologizing to the mob. Would Romney have instructed them to further provoke the mob so that the Cairo office could also be burnt down and its staff murdered? Yes, this is a game changer because it demonstrates that Romney is willing to sacrifice the lives (not just the livelihood) of his staff so that he can come out ahead.

    September 12, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  23. Ludlow Palmer

    Romney doesn't even take responsibility for his own record, his own investments, or the actions of his own company. But he says the President is responsible for this?? Give me a break. This is a lame attempt to divert attention from all the issues surrounding him. When he was governor here in MA I just disliked his policies; in this campaign he has shown himself to be a man with no principles and no conscience. He may love his family and his church, but in every aspect of this political cycle he has demonstrated a lack of integrity. He will say anything, change any position, lie about any fact. He has become a sad, deperate candidate. Hopefully he'll have plenty of time to return to the private sector after the election.

    September 12, 2012 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  24. Jeetu

    Romney and Ryan havde no idea about the foriegn policy or decency to respect American values. Their statements about the attacks in Lybia and Egypt are a validation of the fact that they hav eno clue as to what the POTUS has to do and go through in dealing with such events. Had Romeny just taken the time, he would have found out that the timeline of the events demanded the resonses made by Obama and Clinton. This also shows that Romney does not repsect the position of PTUS which he intends to win.

    Besides, this type of behavior in international affairs mekes us weak even in the domestic affairs. Romney/Rayn administration will send us into a great depression, not just in monetary terms, but also in terms of our vlaues and international standing.

    We cannot afford Romney to be POTUS and hence must vote for Obama in Novmeber elections as well as other democrats to make the House and Senate to work us Americans.

    September 12, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  25. Lynne

    Mitt Romney has sank further into IdiotVille with his actions and statements today.

    Fasten your seat belt Mr. Romney, you are about to get eaten alive by the talking heads!

    You could have become a class act today by stepping back and making a short statement of condolences and saying you are certain that President Obama" will handle the situation appropriately and this is no time for political grandstanding. We are in the midst of a national and world tragedy and must think of other envoys in other countries."

    You may have gotten a million more votes instantly. But Noooooooooo.

    You go on with yo' baaaaaad self!! With that smirk!!

    September 12, 2012 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
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