September 12th, 2012
02:08 PM ET
10 years ago

Mitt Romney's full remarks on Libya, Egypt attacks

(CNN) - Mitt Romney made the following remarks Wednesday in Jacksonville, Florida.

ROMNEY: Good morning. Americans woke up this morning with - with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world.

This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it's disgusting, it - it breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served during their lives the cause of freedom and justice and honor.

We - we mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.

Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. ambassador, J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And of course with these words I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation.

And I know that the people across America are grateful for their service. And we mourn their sacrifice.

America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We'll defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion.

We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution, because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.

I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt, instead of condemning their actions. It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values.

The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn't cleared by Washington. That reflects the mixed signals they're sending to the world.

The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, American cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests.

Over the last several years, we've stood witness to an Arab spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous, but also poses the potential for peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events. We must strive to ensure that the Arab spring does not become an Arab winter. With that, I'm happy to take any questions you may have.



ROMNEY: I - the embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach.

ROMNEY: I think it's a - a - a terrible course to - for America to - 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 at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation.

An apology for America's values is never the right course.

QUESTION: Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the event really has unfolded overnight was appropriate, to be weighing in on this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflective of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate. They were the wrong course to take when our embassy has been breached by protesters. The first response should not be to say, "Yes, we stand by our comments that - that suggest that there's something wrong with the right of free speech."

QUESTION: So what did the White House do wrong, then, Governor Romney, if (inaudible) put out a statement saying (inaudible).

ROMNEY: It's their administration. Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also from the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department.

They clearly - they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was - was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a - a severe miscalculation.

QUESTION: Governor, some are...


QUESTION: (inaudible) talk about mixed signals, (inaudible) mixed signal when you criticize the administration (inaudible).

ROMNEY: We are having - we have a campaign for presidency of the United States that are speaking about the different courses we would each take with regards to the challenges that the world faces. The president and I, for instance, have differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there; with regards to Iran; with regards to Afghanistan; with regards to Syria.

We have many places of distinction and differences. We join together in the condemnation of the attacks on American embassies and the loss of American life, and join in the sympathy for these people. But it's also important for me, just as it was for the White House last night, by the way, to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my - in my view, a - a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for American values.

QUESTION: Governor, some people have said that you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night, and that you should have waited until more details were available. Do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all the things that were happening?

ROMNEY: I don't think we - 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.


QUESTION: Governor Romney, if you had known - if you had known last night that the ambassador had died, and obviously I'm gathering you did not know...

ROMNEY: Well, that came - that came later.

QUESTION: ... right. If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued...


ROMNEY: I'm not - I'm not going to take hypotheticals about what would have been known what and so forth. I - we responded last night to the events that happened in Egypt.


QUESTION: (inaudible)

ROMNEY: I think President Obama has - has demonstrated a - a lack of clarity as to a foreign policy. My foreign policy has three fundamental branches.

ROMNEY: First, confidence in our cause, a recognition that the principles America was based upon are something we shrink from or apologize for; that we stand for that principles.

The second is clarity in our purpose, which is that when we have a foreign policy objective, we describe it honestly and clearly to the American people, to Congress and to the people of the world.

And number three, is resolve in our might: that in those rare circumstances - those rare circumstances where we decide it's essential for us to apply military might, that we do so with overwhelming force, that we do so in the clarity of a mission, understanding the nature of the U.S. interest involved, understanding when the mission will be complete, what will be left when it is - what will be left behind us when that mission has - has been - has been terminated.

These elements I believe are essential to our foreign policy and I haven't seen them from the president.

As I've watched - as I've watched over the past three and a half years, the president has had some successes. He's had some failures. It's a hit-or-miss approach, but it has not been based upon sound foreign policy.

QUESTION: How specifically, Governor Romney, would President Romney have handled this situation differently than President Obama? You (ph) spoke out before midnight when all the facts were known. How would you have handled this differently than the president did?

ROMNEY: I spoke out when the key fact that I referred to was known, which was that the Embassy of the United States issued what appeared to be an apology for American principles. That was a mistake. And I believe that when a mistake is made of that significance, you speak out.

Thank you.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney
soundoff (75 Responses)
  1. Truth

    The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.

    September 12, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  2. ciabella23

    Let's see - Libertarian -Steve Klein - Funds and produces a movie, that Tea Party Pastor – Terry Jones, who also created hate with the burning of the Koran in 2010 –which incited riots in afghanistan ; Tea-Party Members put this movie out on Internet - Speaking to MailOnline, Klein said that the film was designed to stop the Muslim population in America reaching 10 per cent as they would then 'work together and attack their host country'.
    The film, which accuses Mohammed of being a fraud, paedophile and womaniser, sparked violent attacks against U.S. diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt on Tuesday, killing four American citizens.
    The two-hour movie cost $5 million to make and was financed with the help of more than 100 Jewish donors, who believe the film will help his native land by exposing Islam's flaws to the world.

    One would have to wonder if Romney is behind this, He invested in oil companies with IRAN, made money off of IRAN, but more importantly helped to fund their nuclear program thru his investments, and now is concerned about his old co-worker Netanyahu, if he cared that much than why did he invest monies which allowed IRAN to profit from and develop their nuclear program - Oh that is right, because he could make a profit...

    And now, you have him and Sara Palin, putting out statements, without reviewing or getting to root, which can result in more deaths, but then again, Romney chose deferment over surfing his country in the VietNam war, and out of 5 sons, how many have served in Iraq or Afghanistan - that is right 0....(But yet, they have been implicated in ponzi schemes, which hurt older americans)......

    Would not surprise anyone I think, if It was not found that Romney, helped to fund this and start this, to try and show, he could yell, let's go to part of a foreign policy move -

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

    This shows that Romney is a nut job, and will do anything and say anything to be POTUS. Who would want Romney the fool, to represent the US?

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

    The more he talks, the dumber he sounds.

    September 12, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  5. Publius Novus

    Mr. Romney: There is only one president at a time. The president is responsible for foreign policy. Just because you are running for president and you wear an American flag on your lapel, does not make you the president. Close your pie hole and keep it closed. You are giving aid and comfort to the enemy. You are adding confusion and puting our diplomats in danger. You are emboldening the enemies of the United States. There is a word for that. T-R-E-A-S-O-N. Stop digging while you still can.

    September 12, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  6. Republican For Anybody But Romney

    I agree with Mitt Romney. He's absolutely right that when you see a mistake of such significance, you speak out.

    That, however, does not mean you have to speak out before knowing all the facts in order to try to create some kind of foreign policy credentials when you have absolutely zero experience with the said foreign policy you are trying desperately to prove you have.

    I have no choice now but to speak out. The difference between this Republican and Mitt Romney is that I have actually considered all the facts at issue. When I get to the polling booth, I will vote for anyone but Romney. Maybe it will be Johnson or Obama. Not sure about that yet. I just know for certain now that I will never in a million years vote for Romney. I will never vote for any candidate who puts his best interests before the best interests of this country by attempting to score political points during a time of crisis. NEVER.

    September 12, 2012 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  7. just sayin

    aren't these arabs the same arabs that used to be our allies under bush? they weren't attacking us then. i guess this is the arab spring naive obama has brought us. arab dictators were bad but at least we weren't getting americans killed and embassies stormed. it appears obama has now given them the freedom they've always wanted, the freedom to attack and kill us at will. just wonderful.

    September 12, 2012 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  8. Redleg

    But if Romney were President he would decide that it does not make business sense to spend the millions and move heaven and earth to bring them to justice. Just like Reagan deciding that paying ransom and running away with our tail between our legs is the appropriate response to hostages, kidnapping and terrorism.

    September 12, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  9. Critical Thinking

    If his remarks helps this President find his backbone, then I think it was the right thing to say at the right time.

    September 12, 2012 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  10. PTNY

    Divine intervention...

    I thank GOD for Romney's Leadership in bringing down the entire Republican Party!

    September 12, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  11. Obama's America 2016

    What do demcorats want Obama to do about this?

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    September 12, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  12. PTNY

    Romney running for President has given this man, who is grossly uninformed, an international stage to condemn a standing President openly with no understanding of the possible outcome of the decisions the President is making.

    Romney is clearly the imbecile the Republicans were afraid he was!

    September 12, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  13. Independent

    Romney has clearly shown me what a self-serving, abti-patriotic idiot he is, not just by his not even being able to understand the statement made by the embassy in Egypt, but by his inane attempt to gain political points instead of exhibiting solidarity with our administration during such a crisis. How disgusting. I will cast my vote for Obama and hope all of the other independents will, too, so Obama will have a strong mandate. Hopefully, that will prevent further blatant obstructionism from the GOP.

    September 12, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  14. mb2010a

    I think this latest incident of stupidity has pretty much sealed Romney's fate in the election in November. The Republican Party could not have chosen a worse candidate for their standard bearer. It's over lose. Watch his approval rating go through the floor from now until election day...

    September 12, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  15. riabm60

    Romney can not speak on behalf of the American people, HE IS NOT THE PRESIDENT.

    Disgraceful !!!!!

    September 12, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  16. N. Shapiro

    Wel, it looks like Romney, already a draft dodger, tax evader, flip flopper,and job destroyer is learnig to be an out and out liar from his psychopathic running mate Lyin' Ryan – the 3 hour marathoner.

    September 12, 2012 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Jules

    Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could have stood for America today – instead, they chose to stand for themselves.

    September 12, 2012 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. N. Shapiro

    The poster who talked about not being attacked by Arabs in Bush's time must think alQueda are eskimos, and has forgotten about 9/11.

    September 12, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  19. truth hurts

    so where was the heightened security at US embassies and consulates on 9/11??? these places in muslim countries should be protected to the hilt with a lot of troops on the ready. something like this should never be allowed to happen.

    did the obama administration let its guard down because they killed bin laden???

    September 12, 2012 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  20. w l jones

    Just think if.. were CO...... in mid 1950s in Korea when something happen we would been completely wipe out before help came....OMG

    September 12, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Rick 7809

    Mittens has the typical Teapublican philosophy. You believe, and repeat, any piece of information that supports your position without regard to it being true or false. If you say it often enough and loud enough it becomes fact. That is how the Tea Party and Conservative pundits hope to win this election.

    September 12, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  22. Chris

    Romney never ceases to amaze me. I couldn't even watch the full video. Once he got to... "Thats why my 3 part foreign policy plan which..."... stopped the vid, yelled "STOP POLITICIZING THIS YOU TOOL BAG!!"

    September 12, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Gurgyl

    Mitt is so pathetic idiot.

    September 12, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. nobikiniatoll

    Mitt Romney has never looked less presidential than at this moment.

    September 12, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. GonzoinHouston

    The difference is that Romney, as a candidate, was speaking to his base, while Obama, as president, was speaking to the world. We're getting the FBI involved to identify the culprit. It looks a lot like al-Qaeda, but could be any of a dozen disparate groups. And we've served notice that we will employ drones over Libya to pursue the perpetrators. Obama is actually making the right moves instead of inflaming emotions.

    September 12, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
1 2 3