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. GawainF

    Someone needs to start collecting these jokers statements.
    They seems to really wanna top each other. I'm not from the US, I visit every now and again, but from the outside looking in it's plain to see that these guys Romney and Ryan really grasping at straws. You will blame someone for the actions of another. That's like saying ok blame Bush for 911, suppose the Dem start spewing this kind of rhetoric? I pray that these guys don't get into the WH, cause as someone said about will be WW3 and the US will be front and centre.

    September 14, 2012 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  2. Love344

    I get it ...the strategy is .....whatever the problem regardless if it started before he was born....just blame president Obama...

    September 14, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. Phyllis G Williams

    He "tends to say things that aren't true"

    September 14, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  4. Lynda/Minnesota

    I'm fast getting the impression that Mitt Romney actually has no idea whatsoever what is happening in the Middle East. Strange for a man who has been running for president well on a decade now.

    September 14, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  5. Bob

    Are you Obama lovers really still drinking the cool aid? If this man gets re elected our economy will fall apart. Our debt will keep ballooning and our dollar will be worthless. Look at gas prices over $4 a gallon and heading to $5. Obama and the Fed are spending money like its not his. O yeh its not.

    September 14, 2012 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  6. linda

    While the GOP and Tea Pary has rallied against smaller government here in the United States they all seems to want to be BIG Government around the world, they complain that Obama isn't doing enough to go into these countries and help these rebels take over their government and take down their dictators......we did it with Lybia but now they say we didn't do enough, they want Obama to get more involved in Sryia, in Egypt yet all the while they complain he is spending to much can't have it both ways....our money needs to stay here in the US.....not in these other countries fighting their fight......but the GOP wants these countries to adopt our way of life our way of democracy.....they will never change their religion or their belief's.......this President has done the right thing in getting other countries involved besides us doing it all, he has the right Idea of letting these rebels handle their own fight..If Romney and Ryan are elected they will have us in another War shortly after he takes office.......

    September 14, 2012 11:22 am at 11:22 am |
  7. 11thCavVet

    This former Reagan official should be reminded that when the Marine barracks in Lebanon were bombed during their watch resulting in the death of 231 U.S. Marines, Reagan bailed – pulling all the troops out of Lebanon. Is that his idea of "worldwide leadership" ?

    September 14, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  8. Mack

    No leadership from Romney, just blame. No vision, just lower taxes for the already wealthy.

    September 14, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  9. Wake up People!

    Of course it's President Obama's fault. Isn't everything? It's pouring raining, that's President Obama's fault, I awoke during the night with a charleyhorse in my leg, blame the POTUS.

    These rethugs are dangerous and will do anything to regain power.

    OBAMA 2012!

    September 14, 2012 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  10. Cheryl in Canada

    Re: "If you had a president Romney you'd be in a different situation"... I couldn't agree more. I personally would be very fearful of this guy starting a world war ! This man has NONE of Obama's intelligence and skill or even common sense in the world's political arena. Not good qualities for President of the United States. His party's view on women and women's issues are archaic and destructive. As a Canadian, I can only stand by and watch, hope and pray that Americans will not elect this very scary man!

    September 14, 2012 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  11. My Gosh

    Mr. Williamson, you obviously were also an adviser to President Cheney.

    September 14, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  12. Bob

    The media is so bias for Obama including CNN. They conduct these presidential polls and they end up polling more democrats than republican or independents. No wonder the polls are in Obama's favor.

    September 14, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  13. Bob

    News media just report the news. We don't want to here your views.

    September 14, 2012 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  14. JW

    This is disgusting. If Romney were president we'd jump in the middle of every conflict in the world and probably have US troops in every country in the world. The US should not be the World Police. Yes, there are certain thing we should take a hand in, but we can't get involved in every revolution.

    September 14, 2012 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  15. Jess Sayin

    The more they try to make political hay out of this tragedy, the less Americans will support Mitt.

    September 14, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  16. Mack

    Mitt's foreign policy comes from Sheldon Adelson. Profit before people...always.

    September 14, 2012 11:30 am at 11:30 am |
  17. V

    Is Romney willing to finance all the "leadership" he is talking about? Is he willing to open up his check book and fund the US Military to go in to these nations and run them? Last I checked, we were recovering from the worst economic downturn in history and another war or even just the so-called "leadership" he is talking about (which really means going around the world and trying to make every country a little America) is going to cost plenty.

    This man is a joke and has no business anywhere near the White House. He's already done enough damage to this country by being so divisive. I can only hope people are paying attention and keeping score. There is alot at stake in this election and we NEED President Obama to be able to continue as our President.

    September 14, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  18. Sniffit

    This is all what is known as "overcompensation." Reality is, Mittens is plagued with fears and inner feelings of inferiority and compensates for them with a massive narcissism complex. He spent the majority of the beginning of his campaign insisting that the only issues worth talking about were the economy, jobs, unemployment and fiscal responsibility in government. Then he goes over the big pond and makes a complete fool of himself...even insulting our closest ally on the planet by arrogantly pooping on their Olympic games preparations. It embarasses the heck out of him and really puts a bur in his manpampers because it was overt evidence of the inferiority he so fears and feels. Sooo, after he returns and a tragic international crisis develops, he wildly imagines that this is his opportunity to "fix" the situation by going on offense, flailing about wildly with a desperate messaging campaign designed to re-establish the narcissistic delusions of superiority he relies on to hide his inner feelings of inferiority. Instead, it just comes across as rather pitiful, insulting, grossly inappropriate, unpresidential, insensitive and, above all, the kind of self-serving opportunism that has marked Mittens political career since day 1.

    Shorter version: Dude has daddy issues.

    September 14, 2012 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  19. lal singh

    What did Reagan do when the US was attacked in Lebanon in 1983?? that is right. He did NOTHING. This guy who is shedding crocodile tears is a former assistant secretary of state under the Ronald Reagan administration.

    September 14, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Rick McDaniel

    Obama is not to blame for the attacks, but he IS to blame for his dishonest picture of our relations with the middle east......which are not one BIT better, than they were before!

    September 14, 2012 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  21. Joan in MS

    Lead from the front, not from behind? Such a bizarre statement. What are these talking heads talking about? We hear the same criticisms from all of them ... their only foreign policy is to mindlessly babble from a "talking points" campaign memo.

    September 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  22. Mack

    "Our nukes are getting kind of dusty, time to use a few on the Soviets" – Mitt Romney

    September 14, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  23. Seth

    Reports this morning said there were credible reports on a possible attack that were relayed 48hours prior to the State Department. On Sept 11th don't you thinnk precautions should have already been prepared.

    September 14, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  24. Wade

    Anyone who is honest and with a brain BLAMES Obama . His policies of appeasement and apologizing and promoting weakness is directly responsible for this predictable result. It was predicted many times by many experts and now it has happened. The Liberal press is to blame for not reporting the truth about the failures of Obama and the worries of so many experts about his stupid policies.

    September 14, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  25. wang

    The moonbat legion is out in force today! Seems like you all have a lot of free time on your hands, you must not have a job.

    September 14, 2012 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
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