CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 12, 2012
September 12th, 2012
05:17 PM ET
10 years ago

CNN’s GUT CHECK for September 12, 2012

CNN's GUT CHECK | for September 12, 2012 | 5 p.m.
n. a pause to assess the state, progress or condition of the political news cycle

BREAKING: OBAMA SCOLDS ROMNEY IN AN INTERVIEW WITH CBS NEWS... "There's a broader lesson to be learned here. Gov. Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later and, as president one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. It's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them.” Asked if Romney's attacks were irresponsible, the president replied, "I'll let the American people judge that."

POLITICAL TICK TOCK: 10:25 p.m. ET Tuesday: The Romney campaign releases their statement regarding the attacks... “I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. 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.”

12:11 a.m. ET Wednesday: The Obama campaign responds to Romney’s attack… “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”

9:58 a.m. ET: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a news conference in the Treaty Room of the State Department… “This is an attack that should shock the conscious of people of all faiths around the world. We condemn in the strongest terms this senseless act of violence and we send our prayers to the families, friends and colleagues of those we've lost.”

10:19 a.m. ET: Romney doubles down at a news conference in Jacksonville… “I think it's a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values. That instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage. An apology for America's values is never the right course”

11:32 a.m. ET: Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, expresses outrage over Romney’s comments: “Gov. Romney's comments are about as inappropriate as anything I've ever seen at this kind of a moment… They demonstrate an insensitivity and a lack of judgment about what is happening right now.”

2:30 p.m. ET: Former Ambassador Richard Williamson, a senior Romney adviser, in an interview with CNN… “The governor made his statement, it was fine, it was acceptable, it was right.”

4:14 p.m. ET: President Obama tells CBS News that Romney "seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later."

(Answer below)
On this day in history, Nikita Khrushchev became the leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. Who did Khrushchev beat to win the leadership position?

MARK (@PrestonCNN) & MICHELLE (@MJaconiCNN)
What caught our eye today in politics

Mitt Romney’s campaign is in damage control.

The Republican presidential nominee this morning stood by his Sept. 11th statement criticizing President Obama for failing to properly address foreign policy crises. In a news conference whose stage was crafted to look presidential, Romney was peppered with questions about whether his statement jumped the gun –- as the situation on the ground in the Middle East was evolving –as it turns out, for the worse.

The Romney campaign, with 55 days until the election, tried to defend Romney’s case by encouraging Romney supporters to use very specific “message points” to bolster the candidate’s case.

Here are those talking points, as obtained by CNN’s Peter Hamby:

Subject: MESSAGE POINTS: Attacks On America's Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Surrogate Message Points: Attacks On America’s Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt

Top-Line Message:

• We join all Americans in grieving for the four American patriots who lost their lives in yesterday’s attacks and send our condolences to their loved ones.

• This is a time for America to be firm and resolute – and to make clear beyond any doubt that America will not tolerate attacks on our own.

• The violence against the American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt underscores that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is sorely needed.

• Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents both opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also great peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.

o We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.

o American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region do not spin out of control.

• We have seen a foreign policy of weakness and decline in American influence and respect. Yesterday, we saw the consequences of this perceived weakness.

• America cannot send mixed signals to either our allies or our enemies.

• We must not be afraid to use our influence to support those who share our values and interests – and to stand firm against those who threaten them. America cannot shrink from its responsibility to lead.

Questions & Answers:

Don’t you think it was appropriate for the embassy to condemn the controversial movie in question? Are you standing up for movies like this?

• Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.

• But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.

• Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.

• If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.

Reports indicate the embassy in Cairo released its initial statement before the invasion of the embassy commenced. Doesn’t this show they were trying to tamp down the protest and prevent what ultimately happened, not sympathize with the protesters?

• The Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.

• Distancing themselves from the statement and saying it wasn't ‘cleared by Washington’ reflects the mixed signals they are sending to the world.

• American leadership needs to be decisive and resolute when our interests are threatened or attacked. For the last four years, this has been lacking.

• We have seen a foreign policy of weakness, indecision, and a decline in American influence and respect – and yesterday we saw the consequences.

• If pressed: The Obama campaign is now attacking Governor Romney for being critical of the same statement the Administration itself disavowed. This is hypocritical.

Did Governor Romney “jump the gun” last night in releasing his statement?

• No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests.

the LEDE
Did you miss it?

Leading CNNPolitics: Romney's political pretzel over Libya
Has Mitt Romney twisted the narrative of Tuesday's attacks at U.S. missions in Libya and Egypt? A timeline of the events suggests Romney may have been wrong in his accusation that the Obama administration's "first response" on Tuesday was one of sympathy for those who started the violence, as the violence came after the first statement was published.

Leading Drudge: Americans Killed In Libya – Attack 'Coordinated'
The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staff were killed in an attack on the Benghazi consulate and a safe house refuge, stormed by Islamist gunmen blaming America for a film they said insulted the Prophet Mohammad. Gunmen attacked and set fire to the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi, the cradle of last year's U.S.-backed uprising against Muammar Gaddafi's 42-year rule. Another assault was mounted on the U.S. embassy in Cairo. – Hadeel Al Shalchi for Reuters

Leading HuffPo: 'Utter Disaster'
On Wednesday morning, hours after the deaths of four U.S. diplomats, including the U.S. ambassador to Libya, Mitt Romney put his campaign on the line by attacking President Barack Obama and the besieged diplomats in the Middle East. – Ryan Grim and Joshua Hersh

Leading Politico: Mitt Romney digs in on Obama ‘apology’
Veering away from the political caution and relentless economic focus that have defined his presidential campaign, Mitt Romney repeatedly charged the Obama administration with a “disgraceful” and conciliatory response to yesterday’s riots in North Africa that left an American ambassador and multiple diplomatic aides dead. – Alexander Burns and Maggie Haberman

Leading The New York Times: Embassy Attacks Fuel Escalation in U.S. Presidential Race
The deadly attack on Americans in Libya fueled a harsh escalation of the presidential campaign in the United States on Wednesday as Mitt Romney assailed President Obama’s handling of the situation, while Democrats accused Mr. Romney, the Republican nominee, of politicizing an international crisis. – Peter Baker

The political bites of the day

- Romney says he wouldn’t hesitate when he sees ‘a violation of our principles’ -
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Some said you jumped the gun with that statement last night and should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having the statement come out?
ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something, which is a violation of our principles. We express immediately when we feel that the president and his administration have done something, which is inconsistent with the principles of America. Simply put, having an embassy which is - has been breached and has protesters on its grounds, having violated the sovereignty of the United States, having that embassy reiterate a statement effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course for an administration.

- ‘I always think discretion is the better way to go’ -
PEGGY NOONAN, A FORMER REAGAN SPEECHWRITER, IN AN INTERVIEW ON FOX NEWS: “I was thinking as he spoke, I think I belong to the old school of thinking that in times of great drama and heightened crisis, and in times when something violent has happened to your people, I always think discretion is the better way to go. When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you're always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically.”

- We tried cutting taxes, reducing regulations -
MASSACHUSETTS SENATE CANDIDATE ELIZABETH WARREN IN A FORTHCOMING ARTICLE IN THE NEW YORKER BY JEFFREY TOOBIN: “This is a story about how government gets used. Government gets used to protect those who have already made it. That becomes the game. And so we had the big crash, and I thought, OK! We tested the alternative theory. Cut taxes, reduce regulations and financial services, and see what happens to the economy. We ran a 30-year test on that and it was a disaster.”

- Kaine compares his time as governor with Allen’s -
VIRGINIA SENATE CANDIDATE TIM KAINE IN A NEW TELEVISION AD: “As governor, I cut 5 billion in spending, balanced the budget and cut my own pay. George Allen increased spending 45% as governor, helped turn a record surplus into a massive deficit as a senator, voted four times to raise the debt ceiling, and voted four times to raise his own pay. Now that’s a real difference.”

What stopped us in 140 characters or less








In September 1953, the influential leader of the Soviet Union, Joseph Stalin, died of a cerebral hemorrhage. The solidified power structure of the USSR reacted and a fight began to brew over who would succeed the deceased leader.

The leadership struggle became a fight between Georgy Malenkov and Nikita Khrushchev. Although Malenkov had been Stalin’s chosen successor, Khrushchev won the fight, was made secretary of the Communist Party and Malenkov became the ceremonial premiere.

After coming to power, Khrushchev, in many ways, repudiated his successor for violations of “Leninist norms of legality” and the cult of personality that Stalin created.

Khrushchev would go on to play an important role in both Soviet and American history. From the Cuban Missile Crisis to the escalation of the Cold War, the soviet leader became almost a household name in the United States during his time in power.

(why aren’t you in it)

Congratulations to Matthew Gilbertson (‏@MattRGilbertson) for winning today’s Gut Check Trivia Question. It was a hotly contested question, although there were a number of incorrect answers. Greg Dean (@gregdean11) took three shots at it, even though he got the correct answer on the first try. Thanks for playing, all.

Our inbox awaits:
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Tips or comments? Send them to Michelle; send complaints to Preston, because he is already in a bad mood. We also want to give a shout out to Dan Merica, who runs our Twitter account @gutCheckCNN and enriches this product every single day.

Filed under: CNN's Gut Check
soundoff (84 Responses)
  1. Pa Voter

    Nope, Obama would rather apologize first. Ask some questions second and then do nothing third.

    September 12, 2012 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  2. Pa Voter

    don in albuquerque, may the Secret Service pay you a vist real soon !!

    September 12, 2012 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  3. Lesc Wong

    It's unbelievable! But not unexpected that Obama's Biased Liberal Media would attack Romney and not the Obama/Democrat Islamist comrades who trampled American property and killed American citizens in Libya. In another sad affront to the American people, Hilary Clinton appologizes for these heinous acts of hers, Obama's and their Democratic Islamist friends. And where is Obama now? Fundraising again! Where is your outrage America?!

    September 12, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Timbits

    Hey Kelly Patchet...I'm guessing your a Conservative from the Western Provinces that also supports Prime Minister Harper...what in the heck are you talking about!

    September 12, 2012 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  5. Me

    I Obama Should be charged with Treason, He does not need to say he is sorry for me, he has BETRAYED the American people, DEFEND AMERICA is his first DUTY as it is MINE AND YOURS. And anyone making excuses for him is harboring the Enemy and should be charged as well, this goes for CNN as well...

    September 12, 2012 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  6. Joseph

    Everyone knows what Romneys foreign policy is.Its the same as Bush.When asked to fight for your country against communism.Flash your yellow streak.Four deferments from another Republican coward who only grows a set when they're being blowed off of someone else.

    September 12, 2012 06:33 pm at 6:33 pm |
  7. Flipper

    You people are flippin' nutz! Everything is so political to you that you find yourselves more outraged over something Romney said than you do about the fact that 4 Americans are dead. Open your eyes, people! Is it a coincidence that this happened on 9/11? What happened to all the Arab countries are going to love us with President Obama being in charge? And I'm half Arabic! What Romney said was correct and you all should realize that we can't be apologizing for the fact that we have freedom of speech in this country and people can say what they wish any way that they wish to say it. The guy who used poor judgment was the guy who made the video...where is your outrage over his poor judgement? Romney had every right to find the first statement appalling. Stop being so hypocritcal...if this had happened under Bush's watch, you would all have been self-righteous about what comes out of the embassy being an official statement from the administration. Now, because it's become smug about how it wasn't an official response. Hypocrites!

    September 12, 2012 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. James Napoli

    This tragedy is an attack on all Americans. Obama is not to blame and his resposne was presidential. Romney has demonstrarted that he is tone deaf when it comes, to among other things, international issues. He is not interested in showing the world a united America in times of crisis; but instead deliviers untimely, ill concieved and ultimatley false comments for poltical gain. His respsosne was much less than thoughtful. He is not qualified for the office of President of the United States

    September 12, 2012 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Jim whalen

    GI Joe if this is true how could any real Military person vote for this Administration or in fact any federal employee he bows to countrys, he cut the federal employees pay and who is he will always be the question. One thing for sure he has made the USA a 3rd World counrty and 4 Yr.

    September 12, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  10. Anonymous

    big 'o' has the tendency to Duck first, then Run, all the while blaming others for his failures.

    September 12, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. dicksonman

    What else will Romney say? He can't say the president did a great job. If the president had done exactly what Romney said then he would have said that was the wrong thing to do.

    September 12, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Ananth Iyer

    Romney is just trying his best to get any attention he can. Poor guy he terribly falls short. At this point does anyone really give any importance to what he says. He is Mitt Romney.. he does not make sense any given day!!!

    September 12, 2012 07:16 pm at 7:16 pm |
  13. Rodney YouFire

    Rodney and Ryan you might as well quit!! Today is the best day to declare President Obama will run this country for another four year. We do not trust you!! You are a disgrace and an embarasement to America!! GO BACK TO YOU MASION OR CRAWL under a rock. SHAME ON YOU !!!!

    September 12, 2012 07:18 pm at 7:18 pm |
  14. Craig RB

    Romney is an embarrassment to the American political process. I'm so relieved that I left the GOP= Goofy Old Party long ago. His tactics, lies and distortions only work with the hard core base but the swing voters and independents don't like his unsubstantiated statements. He's not going to win.

    September 12, 2012 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |
  15. Smack Dab

    It is never too early criticize Obama on foreign policy. He had absolutely no experience in American foreign policy before becoming president, and he has no clue what he is doing now. He does not care about America, or Americans who are at risk. He is more concerned about offending Muslims than anything else. Romney is a stand up American who loves America, and he has every right to say whatever he wants about a situation like this one.

    September 12, 2012 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  16. CommonSense

    The Democrats should have nothing to worry about in regards to the November presidential election. With people as stupid as Mitt.. who shoots himself on the foot. There is no way the Republican can win the White House back. This Mitt.. guy is as dumb as our form Republican Presid...

    September 12, 2012 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  17. kman821

    If the American voters are foolish enough to elect Richie Rich ... he'll quickly learn leading the free world will be very difficult with his head so firmly planted between his own buttocks.

    September 12, 2012 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  18. cdr_r

    Obama had prior knowledge of a developing situation in Libya and obviously ignored it. The Ambassador made note of unrest in his report. WJHy weren't the Marine guard given "weapons free" if there was intrusion on the embassy? Why did Libya provide additional resources to protect the embassy compound? Why was Obama apologizing for a film he had no control over OR would he have prevented its release hence taking away Freedom of Speech? Allin all the POTUS was sleeping on watch and not leading. Maybe his spending was more important. After all we are now $16 trillion in debt and expecting to go to $20 Trillion in two years if Obama is re-elected. Did you know 46% of the households in the US today pay 0 – Nada – zilch in income taxes. That means 53% of us are providing a free ride to the others. SLeep warn tonight knowng that the President really does;t care for your safety.

    September 12, 2012 07:58 pm at 7:58 pm |
  19. Tom

    Willard M. Romney is already an embarrassment to the USA, and yet there are people who want him elected to its highest office. "What fools these mortals be."–William Shakespeare

    September 12, 2012 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  20. LOST

    The GOP must be very proud at this moment. Damage control? This election season has been out of control...and the damage is already done.

    September 12, 2012 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. Donald in CA

    All mitt knows how to do is make money for himself. He is a total embrassment for the U.S and he's not even in political office at this time. Comparing Obama and mitt is like comparing fine wine with the old Gallo thunderbird in the fifties.

    September 12, 2012 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  22. Frank T

    Romney the Pathological liar,Vulture, Tax Evader, Outsourcer Of Good paying American Jobs, BLATANT DRAFT DOGGER,he doesn't have a clue on Foreign Policy,for that matter he is totally oblivious to anything about what's going on in America. Please shut up Mitten as every comment you make about our Elected President is plain stupid,so stop thinking that we Americans will believe you, You are a blatant loser please go home to Calif and learn how to operate you remote control car elevator.Stop lying as it's so easy to tell when you are lying."Your Lips Are Moving" Oh I forgot ask Osama Bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago.

    September 12, 2012 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  23. Anonymous

    First, the statement from embassy was issued before the attack. Embassy staff were and still are in the midst of a tense situation and their statements can not inflame the situation.

    Mr Romney should stop making inflamatory comments from the comfort of his home. This shows that in addition to not being able to relate to the economic situation of American people, he does not have a clue about foreign policy. Any word from the President can have grave consequence on the safety of our fellow citizens serving abroad. You better be able to think before you speak.

    September 12, 2012 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  24. AK_steve

    Some one take the shovel a way from Mitt. He is not only loosing the election but he is embarrassing the hell out of our country.

    September 12, 2012 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  25. HomeBoy

    Too bad our president does not have the leadership capabilities to lead from the front. Instead he is confused and lost in regard to policy. Israel – is he with or not? Muslims – is he one or not? His core values are getting in the way of leading our country. His blind followers cant see the forest for the trees.

    September 12, 2012 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
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