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. Squigman

    Yea, the game changed. For Mitt, it's over. Pack up the equipment and leave the field. You've shown your weak points too many times, to be considered electable. Go home, game over.

    September 12, 2012 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  2. DENNA

    "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."
    You are spot on. Romney is a drowning man reaching for any life raft (news story) that drifts his way. He should really be careful how he draws attention to himself. This is not good.

    September 12, 2012 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  3. Manuel

    Romney wasn't interested in dealing with the facts as has been shown consistently throughout his campaign this year. He just wanted another reason to take a cheap political swipe at the President and now looks like a total horse's butt in light of him opening his mouth too soon.

    September 12, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  4. FLIndependent

    Makes one wonder if this is all being orchestrated by the neo-cons that will run Mitten's foreign policy as they did Bush's. Scary to say the least! President Obama is the leader we need in these dangerous and volatile times, not someone that shoots first and asks questions later. We lived through 8 years of that and it is past time for a more measured, level-headed approach.

    September 12, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  5. Phaque

    Castellanos couldn't get Romney the nomination last time and he is not going to get him elected this time. Romney has clearly shown he is not ready to be command in chief. Romney is only information is from the news media. He doesn't have a clue at to what is going on in the ground in Libya. The guy is a jerk and bad for America.

    September 12, 2012 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  6. BadgerFan21

    Thank you, Gov. Romney! I was on the fence as to which party to vote for, but you just sealed the deal for me. It is a shame, because Paul Ryan is from my home state and I gave that alot of consideration for the election.

    I will be voting to re-elect the President. Message to Republicans: Come back in 2016 if you can act like world leaders!!!

    September 12, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  7. MTR

    Obama is outrageous. Plain and simple he doesn't deserve to run our country for four more years. His response was pathetic- have we learned anything yet...???

    September 12, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  8. Romney > obama

    Romney was correct to condemn the attacks in Egypt. Obama has had to backtrack after 'accepting' the blame for some film the nobody knows anything about.

    September 12, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  9. rsp

    Another negative for Romney ... which again confirms that he is not Presidential material. Only game changer he could pull off at this late date is if he finally released ALL his 2010 tax record, including the omitted FBAR, and four or five prior years, and they established he was not a tax dodger and did not take advantage of the IRS amnesty program for those individuals with Swiss and off shore bank accounts.

    September 12, 2012 02:58 pm at 2:58 pm |
  10. jcguy

    Even high ranking Repubs did not make mention of any action or inaction of the administration, but rather expressed sympathy for the families and are waiting for the full details. Nor did they back up any comments made by Romney or Ryan. Disgraceful for them to immediately turn this into a political slam. All details need to be gathered and reviewed, communications with the countries involved, before any decision can be made.

    September 12, 2012 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  11. KD

    Yep, it's a game changer for sure. Obama 2012!!!! Romney has once again revealed himself to be an empty suit sitting in an empty chair.

    September 12, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  12. Sorensen

    Not really. This idiot has been losing from the start.

    September 12, 2012 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  13. More Tape Please

    So that was Mitt in the chair who was talking to Clint... And he proved that he CAN do that to himself!!

    September 12, 2012 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  14. Ilene Rosenberg

    Mr. Romney can not be let loose when Foreign Politics are concerned. Money can buy a candidate but not a presidentcy(one hopes)

    September 12, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  15. John

    If Mr. Romney is this incompetent with his speech writers and his advisors he certainly does not deserve to be president, he would be well advised to look both ways before he speaks. The more the man opens his mouth the more credibility as a president he loses, I don't blame him I blame his idiotic staff.

    September 12, 2012 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    @Swamy, I have been saying that he is a sociopath for weeks. He is a known bully and animal abuser and that smirky creepy looks he has creeps me out. How csn you smile during s time of crisis? He reminds me of gary condit after he was alledgedly accused of killing Chandra Levy (turned outndomebody else killed her) and that perpetual smile as if he was running for a reality TV show.
    This bigger snafu than anything his staff has tried to demean the President and the USA
    reminds me of mcnasty's the economy is strong comment and the final nil in his coffin after picking the mutant from AK.
    Good luck trying to spin thus one twit! People are dead and like yesterday, a day of no political comments, youngest can't help yourself. You should be worried. Start packing to move to your La Jolla mansion!! I hope fhe people of WI are snort enough to tell the lying altar boy what he can do with his lies.

    September 12, 2012 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  17. robinhunter

    So this is Romney being large and in charge; followed by a massive spin-team effort. Well, you can't call back a nuke and no spin team is going to be able to change the outcome of that kind of action. We all know Romney is rash, brash and headed for a crash - and yet he wants to be in the driver's seat. Can you really trust him to put aside his rashness, his opportunistic tendencies, his flip-flopping on issues, and his favoritism for the rich at the expense of all else. He's so far right now that he's wrong for America.

    September 12, 2012 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  18. djmp

    Thank you Mr. Romney for clarifying that you do NOT send mixed messages. The message you sent is clear: "I am obviously and unequivocally not capable of being President."

    September 12, 2012 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  19. KuMiCu

    Mitt Romney got the capital of Libya wrong in his opportunistic statement this morning criticizing the President about his handling of the attacks against the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

    Romney referred in his statement to the "embassies" and particularly to "our embassy at Benghazi, Libya." He made the mistake three times, so it wasn't just a slip of the lip.

    Any first year international relations student knows that our diplomatic offices in the capital are "embassies," and our offices in cities that are not the capital are "consulates."

    This means that Romney either had no idea what the capital of Libya was when he said it was Benghazi (it's Tripoli, obviously), or he had no idea what the difference was between "embassies" and "consulates," which is so basic Diplomacy 101 that it's frightening that Mitt Romney wants to be commander in chief in four months and had no idea about the difference.

    September 12, 2012 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |
  20. FactCheck

    Clint's empty chair is starting to look like a viable candidate to the Republicans right about now.

    September 12, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  21. Randy, San Francisco

    Yes, it is a game changer. Shows Romney is not fit to be president, He placed political opportunism over country.

    September 12, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  22. Meeps

    Financial crisis, brought to you by the congress! The President can only do so much to hold the dangerous Congress at bay, if we put Romney in there, he'll do exactly what the Republican portion of the Congress wants. Meanwhile, Pres. Obama will actually side with Republicans when they propose legislation that is good. Romney has no compromise ability.

    September 12, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  23. gthom

    Not a game changer... The game was all but over when the gavel came down the last night of the Democratic convention. Romney is going to lose & the GOP hacks know it. The question is how big will the margin be!

    September 12, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  24. John

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have no business running this Country and only a fool would vote them.

    September 12, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  25. Jae

    Romney is clearly an idiot who speaks before he thinks and he wants to be President??? What a joke!

    September 12, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
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