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. Expat American

    Romney's campaign strategy has gone from 'Hard Line' to 'Just Plain Stupid' at this point.

    September 14, 2012 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  2. Jen

    How many times did President Obama mention that HE KILLED OSAMA during his DNC speech? What did the young men say as they were climbing over embassy walls? "There is more than one Osama!" This uprising is not about a movie; it's about a true antipathy toward the USA, and we have been caught with our pants down.

    September 14, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  3. w l jones

    If I cannot control my staff what about a foreign country.

    September 14, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  4. GI Joe

    early voting in 24 days

    Obama/Biden

    September 14, 2012 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  5. Geroge

    If Romney were president, he would deploy 300 marines for each US embassy around the world and 100 around his house.
    I was thinking about to vote for him but now it seems I can't vote for this idiot.

    September 14, 2012 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  6. JC

    My goodness this campaign is desperate. Mitt couldn't even manage relations with our strongest ally on the eve of the Olympics. Yet a world aflame in religious conflict would dial it back if he were in DC? Utterly pathetic. Most naive candidate since Goldwater.

    September 14, 2012 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  7. Thomas

    And I just forgave Obama for the BP Oil Spill .

    tIs this the same top foreign policy adviser to Mitt Romney that blames 911 on Obama , sounds like "Darth Daughter" !

    Liz Cheney: Cairo, Benghazi and Obama Foreign Policy. Apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies and slashing our military .

    Daddy's girl wants to be secretary of state .

    September 14, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  8. sonny chapman

    Get ready for a Mass Exodus of Congressional Repubs. from the Sinking Romney for Prez. Ship.

    September 14, 2012 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  9. Harry From Pa

    This is ridiculous and these Republicans are making it dangerous out in the world for other Americans. This needs to stop. Republicans are the ones that started this war on religion, there is a sign in Pennsylvania I drive by everyday that says for for religious freedom, vote for christian judeo values. Hello, this is a country of tolerance, and we have to remember we are part of this world. Stop stoking the fire, there are american lives on the line with this rhetoric. We should be coming together and unifying, not this hate. Where are the teachings christ has taught us of love and humility.

    September 14, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  10. Cindy

    Romney has no idea what he is talking about. His ill-timed saber rattling could have gotten Americans in the Egyptian embassy killed. Let him sit inside an embassy while protests are going on outside, and give his "I will not apologize" speech. Romney can also be blamed for ratcheting up the Missile Defense System conflict with Russia. The guy is not only ignorant when he opens his mouth... he's dangerous.

    September 14, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  11. Lynda/Minnesota

    WOW. Romney does understand that the safety of American citizens are still at risk in the Middle East ... doesn't he?

    September 14, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  12. Fair is Fair

    "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."
    ----–
    Yeah... how's that Arab Spring and "mended image" working out for ya? Better yet... how's it working out for the 4 lost souls serving their country? Let me guess... it's Dutch posting on yet ANOTHER name.

    September 14, 2012 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
  13. Pander Bear

    Romney is over. And his whole campaign knows it. But they'll say and do anything to destroy the President, just like they have for years.

    September 14, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  14. Jeetu

    I think Romney/Ryan have no idea as to how to formulate and run a US Foriegn Policy. Their recent statements have added fuel to the fire and made the situation worse. They will make the USA a country of hatred for the world and will cause us to lose our face again and again. Obama could not have predicted these events nor could anyone else. If Romney/Ryan are so smart and so uptodate with their policies, why did they not know about these riots and avoided them? Either they did not know or they do not care. Either way, they are showing their ignorance. Those who defend Romney/Ryan statements ought to examine their objectivity. On what basis can they say that Romney/Rayn would have done any better? What experience do Romney/Ryan have to make such statements. At a time when we should be trying to clam down the things, Romney/Ryan want to incite these more and use for their political advantage. Is that what you can leadership? We are better off without such leadership.

    Vote for Obama and all democracts in this November election to keep Romney/Ryan out of the White House and also to save us.

    September 14, 2012 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  15. Kornfrucious

    Interesting that a comment that points out the obvious slant for the left is deleted while those who jump on the band wagon are allowed to stay. CNN is a front for the Socialist Left! Admit it! Blatantly partisan! In the tank for Obama! Disgustingly Transparent Left Wing Media!!!!

    September 14, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  16. Woman In California

    Everyday this creep shows just how unsuited he is for president. He knows he made a huge mistake this week and that the only foreign policy he has is keeping his money in foreign back accounts and maybe producing children abroad. Otherwise, he lacks totally in this area and knows he'll be laughed off the stage during the debates.

    As for the president lying – why is he so worried about what the president will say about him unless there is some truth there. Otherwise, there would be no need to worry. Why doesn't he just concentrate on showing us those tax returns and revealing his policies (if any) to the American people?

    September 14, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  17. TomJ

    It's curious that Williamson didn't make comments urging embassy security on September 10, when it was so clear to him and Romney that these attacks were about to happen.

    September 14, 2012 11:03 am at 11:03 am |
  18. justaman

    Wake up, Republican party!!!! You're falling into the same losing-fated trap that McCain did: nothing but Obama-bashing. Keep it up and you can all but guarantee Romney a loser!!

    September 14, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  19. 1twinsfan

    Is the Romney campaign not aware that the protests and attacks are stemming from a youtube video made by an Egyptian?

    September 14, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  20. luke,az

    Gov Romney is a joke. He is not presidential material.

    September 14, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  21. vic , nashville ,tn

    Republicans this is called attempt suicide give rebirth to G.W.Bush years

    JUST talk about Economy and jobs please

    September 14, 2012 11:04 am at 11:04 am |
  22. once upon a horse

    hey while you're at it why not blame Obama for the film that was made and released that started all of this trouble? From day one the Romney campaign has done little more than just ATTACK and point fingers of BLAME at the president and we have seen that facts reaaly don't matter much when they do so. The only ones that enjoy this kind of campaign are the Obama-haters that were not going to vote for him anyway. Romney is bending over backward to please Rush, Hannity, Palin, and the 3 on the couch in the morning on FoxNews and that is not going get him elected and if he loses that affore mentioned bunch will desert him as well you watch.

    September 14, 2012 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  23. Jim Hahn

    OK. So now the Romney campaign is doubling down in idiocy. Seems they have a lot to spare.

    September 14, 2012 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  24. Doug Hendrix

    What a load of BS, unelss Romney and his staff is the driving force behind this horrendous movie that was produced only to cause unrest in the middle east. So was Romney the producer? Did he fund this movie? He must have because the only way to have stopped the unrest was for the movie not to have been made. So he must have had it made so they could cause the problems and then claim that they could have averted the unrest. So sorry everyone for this post. I know the reasoning I just tyoped in makes absolutely no sense, but I am just trying to think like a Republican and connect the dots the normal way they do.

    September 14, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
  25. MR.CANADA

    Did not understand any American voting for Romney until I saw the tvshow HONEY BOO BOO.

    September 14, 2012 11:08 am at 11:08 am |
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