September 14th, 2012
10:32 AM ET
9 years ago

Romney adviser blames Obama for Libya, Egypt attacks

(CNN) - A top foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney's campaign stood by his argument Friday that this week's attacks on diplomatic posts in Libya and Egypt could have been averted if Romney were president.

Richard Williamson, a former assistant secretary of state under the Ronald Reagan administration, said Romney's policies would have led to better standing for the United States among countries that saw uprisings in the last couple years.

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"A Romney administration would be there, would be more active trying to work with civil society, with reformer movements, so we would be partners in this evolution, not running behind," Williamson said on CNN's "Starting Point."

He specifically mentioned a lack of government involvement in the Tahrir Square protests of 2011, which ultimately led to the resignation of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Regarding Libya, Williamson argued the U.S. should have been more active in "reconciliation and reconstruction" efforts in Libya after the U.S. joined a multi-state coalition that took military action against Libyan forces.

His comments come after Williamson told the Washington Post "there's a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you'd be in a different situation."

He argued on CNN that Romney would have known security should have been heightened on Sept. 11 at all American consulates and embassies, saying there were "symbolic reasons to be concerned about the safety of our people."

The Republican presidential nominee has come under fire recently while trying to prove his foreign policy chops. He especially drew criticism after blasting the Obama administration, somewhat prematurely, over Tuesday night's attacks.

Defending his stance Friday morning at a fund-raising event in New York City, Romney said "there have been over the years, confusing messages sent by the president of the United States to the world."

Giving a specific example, he painted the president as weak during the 2009 protests in Iran, also known as the "Green Revolution," saying President Barack Obama "had nothing to say that sent a message to the world" and faulting him for not giving direct assistance to the demonstrators.

Half-a-year into his first term in 2009, Obama issued statements and condemned violence against protesters but not did lead or call for U.S. intervention in Iran's post-election unrest.

Williamson argued Obama lacks in leadership worldwide, and the attacks on American missions this week are "part of a pattern where (the attackers) see less resolve and strength of the United States."

The adviser, who also served as a former ambassador to the United Nations, further made the point that the killing of Ambassador Chris Stevens in Libya this week marked the first assassination of an ambassador since Jimmy Carter.

"I do think Governor Romney has a view of the Middle East that is stable and secure–where people's dignity and pluralism and economic opportunity are recognized (and) can be achieved," Williamson said. "But it has to be achieved with United States leadership, and United States leadership from the front, not behind."

- CNN Political Producer Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Egypt • Foreign Policy • Libya • Mitt Romney
soundoff (149 Responses)
  1. Name

    This guy is full of it.

    September 14, 2012 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  2. Winning

    I'm sorry, but this campaign just seems desperate at this point, to me. I wish I could vote Republican this election, but I just can't. This guy is a giant tool, and his campaign seems to consist of incompetent idiots. It's amazing to say it, but after 5+ years of campaigning to be president, Romney just doesn't have it. I may vote Gary Johnson, as I don't like Obama... but there is no way I can vote for this tool.

    September 14, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  3. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    So, Obama should have been more active in preventing these attacks? Is that even possible since he didn't know that they were going to happen? There is only so much we as a country can and should do to mettle in the internal affiairs of another country. I don't think that Richard Williamson has been on the ground in those places nor does he demonstrate a clear understanding as to what is going on.

    September 14, 2012 10:41 am at 10:41 am |
  4. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    A Reagan era Assistant Secretary of State. Oh, yeah. That was when we illegally sold weapons to Iran so we could fund the Contras in Nicaragua in direct violation of a law passed by Congress over Reagan's Veto. Let's see. In order to get testimony from Ollie North on what happened, he was granted immunity, and used that technicality to get his conviction overturned. That's also when we also sold weapons to Iraq in their war with Iran. Hm, so we sold to both Iran and Iraq? Curiouser and curiouser. Yeah, that's someone with credibility in foreign policy.

    September 14, 2012 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. John

    Romney blames Obama for everything and forgets that it was George W. Bush (a Republican) that caused the mess. Sadly the only solution Romney has is tax cuts for the rich and deregulate the banks. Everything else he he plans to do is kept as a secret until after the election. That should give you a warm and fuzzy feeling.

    September 14, 2012 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  6. B.

    What an ridiculous claim to make and a reason that the Republicans will be defeated in November.

    These people are in panic mode now and will say anything now in an attempt to stay afloat.
    The way Romney reacted to the events Wednesday show us that he is a unpredictable and dangerous person to be at the helm.

    September 14, 2012 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. Save the Rich, Vote GOP

    Wasn't it the GOP that was screaming to stay out of it? These guys are so full of it I can smell it.

    September 14, 2012 10:48 am at 10:48 am |

    If Willard were President, we'd still be fighting in Iraq, he would have started a war with Syria, Iran and God knows who else. There would have not been an "Arab Spring" if Willard was President. He would have not went to Cairo to mend America's damaged image with Muslims. If Romney ever becomes President, he'll start WW3.

    September 14, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  9. Expat American

    Romney is crossing over into Sarah Palin territory.......

    September 14, 2012 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Sniffit

    ""Am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren't quite accurate? Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?'" he said. "That's a judgment you make.""

    Let's be very VERY clear here and translate what Mittens just said: "I will not be rebutting things Obama says and will instead just speak from my planned talking points script."

    Why? Because he knows Obama's not lying and he won't have any truthful he's trying to start a narrative prior to the debates that has his accusation of lying out in front, made first and talked about in the MSM as though it deserves to be considered a legitimate statement, instead of the low-brow cheap shot that it is...a very unpresidential manner of addressing the issue of the debates prior to them taking place. MITTENS IS DESPERATE.

    September 14, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  11. frespech

    Maybe the Romney advisor should check with Bin Laden about Obama leading from behind.

    September 14, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  12. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    President Obama is responsible?!? Wow, Mittens has gone from idiot to paranoid delusional ...

    September 14, 2012 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  13. sayer

    If Obama would have assisted the revolutionaries, the GOP would now be criticizing him for that. Besides, the people need to lead their own revolution from the front. We led from the front in Iraq and look where that got us. After two months, they hated us.

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  14. sonny chapman

    Ronald Reagen ? Isn't he the genius who sent U.S. Marines into Beirut, Lebanon in the middle of a Civil War & got 256 of them killed?

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. Sniffit

    Good idea: triple down on the already damaging nonsense you've been spewing all week. It is going to be absolutely hilarious to watch the GOP/Teatroll reaction to next week's polling.


    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  16. aalisa31

    Out of touch.. out of mind... they have completely lost it!

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  17. Bill

    The GOP has become a laughing stock, lacking direction, ideas or comportment. Just a collection of angry, white guys who want to blame everything on the president. How pathetic. November 6 can not come soon enough. But look at this way – Obama's reelection will guarantee ratings for Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh and that psychotic blonde woman Ann Coulter.

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  18. Michael

    Mutt Robme and Lyin Ryan are political pretenders, consevative hacks, and not ready for prime time! CNN, stop proping up these two wing nuts, American people know what your doing trying to make this election cycle close! CNN, where is your reporting on Sam Bacile, Pastor Terry Jones of Gainesville, Fla, Morris Sadek, a conservative Coptic Christian in the U.S. whose behind the film which is responsible for deaths of Americans! I hope ths repuglican party does not influence your reporting on these extremist! These conservative extremist will start World War III and blame President Obama, how is that possible when we supposedly have a 24 hour news cycle to report these facts! Letting GOP reinvent this into a freedom of speech forum is disegenious, manipulative, dishonest and deceptive!

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. ThinkAgain: Mittens 'n' Munster are Liars

    By Mittens' reasoning, Reagan was responsible for the Marine barracks attack in Lebanon and GW Bush was responsible for 9/11.

    September 14, 2012 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Facts don't Lie

    the Romney campaign mantra seems to be..if all else fails just BLAME OBAMA. It may have worked a bit at first but especially after his week this week of foot in mouth statements it has gotten old.

    September 14, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  21. ShawnDH

    Romney = desperate antics from a LOSING campaign. It's sad to watch. His delusional, anti-American rhetoric during a time of crisis is disgusting and shameful. It really highlights the "character" of Mitt Romney, who is unfit for the Oval Office in every way.

    September 14, 2012 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  22. Nyasa

    As if! Romney blundered every stop abroad last month when he opened his mouth, his foot went into his mouth. He's the biggest idiot the GOP has rolled out yet. I think Bush had more sense than Romney. Always wagging his tongue but never producing an intellectual conversation.

    September 14, 2012 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  23. Joe

    Nice try, Williamson--GO HOME, and take alexithymic Mitt with you.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. n

    And yet, still, they get behind Romney. Who are these republicans of today? If they ever get any where near that virtual button, the world is doomed.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  25. Jack

    Reagan and foreign policy. Let's kick the crap out of–Grenada. We really showed them our military prowess. Oh yeah, and the Iran/Contra fiasco. Let's not forget that. And when marines were killed by a bomb in Lebanon Reagan removed all our troops.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
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