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.

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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. geggyg

    if Obama slept through 9/11 what does that have to do with recent events , at the time he was only a state senator so if he was asleep they only way he could have known about it i someone had phoned him and woken him , he didnt have a security appartus then to make him aware of events as they happen. Im sure many americans slept through 9/11

    September 12, 2012 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  2. sidairfoil

    The "apology" Romney accuses Obama of making was a TRUE statement that our nation is FOUNDED on religious freedom and respect for ALL religions. And it was issued BEFORE the Libyan embassy was attacked and our ambassador was killed. After the attack and murder Obama vehemently condemned both, as he should. The Libyan GOVERNMENT also condemned the attack because it was perpetrated by lawless members of Libyan society, NOT the government itself. Obama is, once again, being the ADULT in the room, while Romney is whining from the back seat.


    September 12, 2012 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. BlindSquirrel

    Yep, Romney is just the President we need. Don't let silly things like having the facts get in the way of good old fashioned rhetoric! Why, I bet he'd send this nation to war over unconfirmed reports of weapons of mass destruction! Wait, no, I take that back, no Republican would do that...

    September 12, 2012 09:14 pm at 9:14 pm |
  4. Mark

    1.5 BILLION to the Muslim Brotherhood, inviting them over for dinner, apologizing to these terrorists, instead of condeming them, you are the problem, I am ashamed of you as millions are us are. Go back to your church!

    September 12, 2012 09:35 pm at 9:35 pm |
  5. Ancient Texan

    Anonymous– "it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts......." You mean like Obama did when he jumped to the wrong conclusion about "over-zealous cops" and had to participate in a "beer summit"?

    September 12, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  6. MontanaTrace

    Are we to be satisfied, complacent, sympathetic with Obama's stand? This is outrageous!

    September 12, 2012 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  7. realist

    It sounds like Mittens is saying Islam is our enemy. Yeah, good comment, let's get Armageddon goin', why not? He has no practical or ideological sense at all; he's with the fundamentalists who think Israel is the only country that deserves to exist in the middle east.

    September 12, 2012 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  8. bgg1175

    This just freaking happened and Romney, like a true Vulture, descends on the story to use it to make political attacks???? Money does not equal class!

    September 12, 2012 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  9. BEAL

    The Obama administration has demonstrated the kind of weakness and needless conciliation that invites attacks and recriminations for its citizens excersizing their constitutional rights of free speech. 9/11 was an obvious signal to re-inforce all overseas positions. Another dereiction of duty by Barrack Hussein Obama?

    September 12, 2012 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |

    Everytime ole MITT opens his mouth his poll numbers go down. PLEASE MITT, keep talking!

    September 12, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  11. hoosier1234

    Shoot first and aim later?

    Sounds a lot like what Obama and Pelosi and the deomcratic house and senate did when these two told legislators that they would have to vote on Obamacare before they could even read it all.

    September 12, 2012 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  12. Bob B

    When others attack America, the republicans attack our president. These are not the patriots they pretend to be. They do not act with the interests of this country or this country's citizens in mind. Ideology-driven madmen within are a far greater threat than the ideology-driven madmen in foreign countries.

    September 12, 2012 11:34 pm at 11:34 pm |
  13. NoKidding

    If Romney wants to talk tough and go to war, let him! This is the same guy who was in France spreading the words of Mormon while people were drafted to serve in the Viet Nam war.
    If he wants to go to war, let's ask for his 5 adult boys to serve in the milllitary and be sent to the war zone.

    September 12, 2012 11:37 pm at 11:37 pm |
  14. NoKidding

    @HellNotoObama: you said "If Obama is reelected America deserves to crash and burn under this failure. Wait and see, our country will go under" ???
    LOL, the country had already gone under when GW Bush left office, and Obama has been struggling to bring it back up ever since! Have you been asleep?

    September 12, 2012 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
  15. read5

    Ambassador Stevens did not shoot first, he was burned to death.

    Now we can "aim later": Who approved the apology that emboldened the mob in Cairo?

    September 12, 2012 11:53 pm at 11:53 pm |
  16. Jenny Smith

    John McCain should have stayed in Vietnam 40ish years ago. He is a traitor to our country in calling our current president "weak" in the midst of an election campaign and a foreign relations emergency. He, the brilliant one who thought Sarah Palin could handle a crisis like this, is a danger to America.

    Put a sock in it, old man McCain. YOU deserve no respect and should be tried for treason.

    September 13, 2012 12:05 am at 12:05 am |
  17. adam

    So what Mitt is telling us is that he is going to be tougher than Obama with the middle east if he is elected. And this is supposed to be a reason to elect him? I guess once he shows how much tougher he is and skyrockets the debt by starting yet another war, the GOP can just blame it on the next democratic president who gets to inherit that debt. Forget about schools and hospitals for Americans, good ol' Mitt is going to keep everyone real safe by sending all your taxes "offshore" for another useful battle in the middle east.

    September 13, 2012 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  18. Phil the Love

    Biden's son fights Al-Queda. Romney's sons fight Ellen DeGeneres and her wife.

    September 13, 2012 12:23 am at 12:23 am |
  19. John Oboho

    This tough talk coming from one who dodged draft,who passed on the coward gene to his 5 sons,none of who volunteered to defend America durring America's longest war.I wonder what the feelings of a purple heart would be,to give a salute to a draft dodger.Disgusting,how those who don't have balls would be the ones to stoke war,for others to fight and get killed,while thier buddies count billions from defence contracts.Treacherous,I would say.

    September 13, 2012 12:45 am at 12:45 am |
  20. NewsHound38

    It would seem Gov Romney's answer to every volitile issue is to declare war on the opposite side & deploy the troops. What does this man have against peace talks & dousing the flames before deciding to go to war regardless of the situation ?

    September 13, 2012 01:35 am at 1:35 am |
  21. Natasha

    Obama is a weak President and has built no international alliances with anybody.
    He has refused to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister once again and has not taken a stand on the horrific situation in Syria.
    When there was an open microphone he was heard to tell Putin to wait until after the election , then he could be more accommodating.
    That is the extent of his foreign policy.
    We all would like to live in a peaceful world but as the recent events have shown us , the western world is under constant attack by Islam terrorists.
    That is why it is important to show strong presence internationally , not pump your fist after tragic events have happened.

    September 13, 2012 01:51 am at 1:51 am |
  22. Reagan80

    What a joke. Barry's first impulse is to apologize.

    September 13, 2012 01:54 am at 1:54 am |
  23. Name Suzette

    Hope the repubs won't see the white house for years to come

    September 13, 2012 01:59 am at 1:59 am |
  24. Karina

    Most of these comments here are petty and spiteful attacks on Romney , nothing to do with the recent horrific events where innocent people lost their lives.
    Obama is the weakest President you have ever had , no foreign policy in place and he has not built international relations with anybody , unless you want to count his tour of apologies to countries that despise the western world.
    Islam terrorism is a threat and it seems that you have forgotten 9/11 far to soon.

    September 13, 2012 02:13 am at 2:13 am |

    Obama is such a loser. Look at his body language . . . he looks like a pimp. NOBAMA in 2012 . . . His policies are Barackwards!!

    September 13, 2012 02:54 am at 2:54 am |
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