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. Sniffit

    The TL;DR version ("too long; didn't read"):

    "Hahahaha...boy do we think you're freekin stupid, Amurika....look how we blatantly lie at you and you eat it up like a starving dog after a long road trip on the roof of my car. That's right...table scraps for you, veal for go lie down."

    September 12, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  2. Maxx

    Thanks Mr. chicken-hawk, run away to France with your butler Romney for talking so tough when you are in no personal danger. And thank for politicizing an attack on the U.S. before you even knew what happened. And thanks for uniting the country in defense of this attack. Very presidential of you.

    September 12, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |

    You shouldn't have spoken out at all moron. All the families weren't even notified. Have you no decency? Silly question. You're the same guy who ships peoples jobs overseas and pocket their pensions.

    September 12, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  4. Rudy NYC

    Romney's desperate. He's trying to manufacture a game changer, but it will once again turn into something that will backfire.

    September 12, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  5. FactCheck

    Shut up... please just shut the hell up and let the adults in the room talk for a change.

    September 12, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  6. Jane

    CNN: If you were still anything remotely resembling a true journalistic site, you would have posted the picture of Romney walking away from the Press Conference with a cheerful little smirk on his face and the front rows of press looking like they were just gutpunched. If there were a thought bubble over the chairs it would have said something like "did he just say what I THOUGHT he said?". This picture should be on the front page of every newspaper tomorrow.

    September 12, 2012 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  7. Marie MD

    WHO CARES? I rather watch grass grow than read or listen to anything this horse's behind has to say about anything. He was, is and will forever be a NOBODY!!!!!

    September 12, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  8. Jane

    This is over – when even a rightleaning, buttkisser like David Gregory "appears" to be appalled!!

    September 12, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  9. v_mag

    Romney said: "It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values."
    Translation: "It's never too early to fly off the handle, shoot from the hip, be a cowboy, and go off like a rocket when we don't even have all the facts or have not thought out the ramifications of what we say."

    This guy is the mayor of Bozo City.

    September 12, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  10. Logic N LA

    This man is a hack. Anyone supporting him is an idiot! Free speech has a price. and decency is one of those costs. The perosn repsonsible for the post of the anti-Islamic video is an Israeli. Let Israel fight his battle. apologizing for distasteful remarks is what a parent does for a child. the President wanted the Islamic world to know this man did not speak for Americans, but I guess he spoke for Mitt.
    If he is elected we will be in another war within 6 months. He has already called for fighting in 6 areas of the world.

    September 12, 2012 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Sniffit

    Mittens campaign: "Amurikan values means spouting racist hate on the intertubes and not having to be criticized for it or have it undermined by the rest of Amurika apologizing to the people you've offended in hopes that they understand not all Amurikans are bigot pigs like you are."

    Perhaps the biggest sleeper tragedy about Mittens' nonsense on this issue is that the MSM, CNN included, is letting him get away with this mischaracterization. Criticizing hateful speech and apologizing to the people it offended, BECAUSE OF ITS SUBSTANCE (or lack thereof really), is NOT an apology for "Amurikan values" or "free speech." It is an apology for the CONTENT of the speech, not the rights that allowed you to utter it. Such a blatant mischaracterization and CNN doesn't have the giblets to point it out. It is, in fact, an exercise of free speech in and of itself to criticize others' speech and precisely the exercise of free speech that Madison et al envisioned when explaining free speech in the Federalist Papers and elsewhere: public debate, etc. This notion that "free speech" includes the right to never have to apologize or suffer someone's criticism or...*gasp*...someone apologizing for you when you've offended others...that notion is garbage. You have every right in this country to be a bigotted, loudmouthed racist islamaphobe jackhole, and I have every right to speak my condemnation of it and attempt to ameliorate the fury it endangers in those who are the target of your hate. GROW UP.

    September 12, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  12. Kiki

    Romney jumped into the deep end of the pool of foreign policy head first and forgot he couldn't swim!

    September 12, 2012 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  13. Mike

    Couldn't stand Santorum, but he was right: alexithymic Mitt is the WORST POSSIBLE CANDIDATE, EVER.

    September 12, 2012 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  14. George

    He's getting as embarrassing as Palin.

    September 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  15. 333maxwell

    Gads.. I wonder sometimes if the man is just not clinically insane.

    September 12, 2012 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  16. Michelle

    Reblogged this on Republican and Democrat Daily and commented:
    I don't believe this should have been turned into some kind of political platform for Romney to dive off of while, in effect, ridiculing the President.
    Romney has the right to his opinions and freedom to express them, but he has no right to "make policy" for America, which he has essentially done with some of his comments, because he is not the President. He's not even a member of Congress. And the Governor of Massachusetts does not, nir should he be allowed to, even if running for President, speak for the entire country.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  17. Ann

    Romney keeps proving how he is not ready for prime time on the international scene. Decent people would have issued a statement saying " I stand with the President and let's wait until all the facts are in an our folks there are safe from harm" or something like that. Gov must have the same foreign advisor that Sarah Palin had...and I bet he sees Russia from his house too. A Presdient has to be strong and cautious and then deliberate in your announcements or Gov Romeny are none. And then there is your running mate Ryan...oh yeah he is good foreign policy choice!

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  18. v_mag

    Romney said: "An apology for America's values is never the right course."
    I don't think it's fine for Bush/Cheney to use the terrorist tactics of torture and indiscriminate killing to sully the reputation of the U.S. I believe the Bush regime owes me and every American an apology for that.

    There are many cases where the U.S. government has been wrong, and part of America's values is that she takes responsibility for the things she has done wrong. If Romney doesn't understand and share that value, he is clearly un-American and should move to the Cayman Islands.

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. vahid fozi

    "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."

    September 12, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. vahid fozi

    what a disingenuous person. hopefully "what would romney do" will stay hypothetical and he can play armchair quarterback for the next four years. enjoying seeing your campaign spin machine spin out of control, mr romney.

    September 12, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. DK

    Enjoy the political theater. Obama's history now that the truth has leaked out. Know why Sarah Palin's bus tour was really canceled last year? Do you know why she stayed 30 miles away from the second debate and chose the death of Steve Jobs to announce that she's not running? Know what leaked out? Sarah Palin isn't in this race because too many people now know the truth.

    Search PalinsDirtyLittleSecret for the BIGGEST cover up

    September 12, 2012 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. Truth will Prevail

    What a DISASTER for OBAMA and the DEMOCRATS ..people please lets put some COMPETENT people in office....go ROMNEY – RYAN 2012!!!

    September 12, 2012 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Lil Red

    Romney is absolutely unfit to lead this great nation.

    September 12, 2012 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  24. Thomas

    ROMNEY: Well, that came – that came later.
    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.

    Mr. Romney , was going into Iraq a mistake ?

    Bush = Romney 2012

    September 12, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  25. Julia

    Silence is golden. Please keep your comments to yourself. You could unknowingly put people in harms way with your unhelpful rhetoric. Details of this crisis are unclear and changing. Hush!

    September 12, 2012 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
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