October 11th, 2012
07:10 PM ET
10 years ago

Team Obama: Romney and Ryan made Libya attack political

(CNN) - Remarks from one of President Barack Obama's top campaign aides on the terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, drew a sharp rebuke from Mitt Romney Thursday at a campaign event in North Carolina.

Romney was reacting to comments Stephanie Cutter made on CNN earlier in the day. She said the political firestorm ignited by the attack on an American consulate in Benghazi was a result of Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan using the event to attack the president.

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"The entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," said Cutter, the president's deputy campaign manager. She was speaking to CNN's Brooke Baldwin.

"It's a big part of their stump speech," she continued, adding the GOP vice presidential candidate has "made a political circus all over this country of the terrible tragedy that happened in Libya."

Romney said the remark was an indication Obama and his team "fail to grasp the seriousness of the challenges that we face here in America."

"No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated," Romney said at his event in Ashville. "Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11. President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you to admit that this was a terrorist attack."

"This is a very serious issue," he continued. "These are very serious questions, and the American people deserve serious answers and I hope they come soon."

Cutter's remarks came the day after a contentious Congressional hearing where Republicans insinuated that Obama's administration was responsible for a lack of preparedness ahead of the September 11 attack, which killed four Americans, including the United States' ambassador to Libya.

Critics accuse the administration of trying to cover up or play down the attack through initial statements that described it as a spontaneous act stemming from protests over an anti-Muslim film rather than a planned terrorist assault.

Cutter said on CNN that the State Department and other agencies had been completely forthright in the aftermath of the attack, rejecting the notion that administration officials had purposely misled the American public about the government's handling of the attack.

"The administration has been open and honest from day one about the Benghazi attack," Cutter said. "As more information has become available, they've made that information available to the American people and to members of Congress. But, you know, when a crisis occurs, when an attack occurs, that information is gathered and over time it's more clear what happened."

Andrea Saul, Romney's national press secretary, said in a statement earlier in the day Cutter was wrong in her assertion the GOP nominee and his running mate were the reason the Benghazi attack became political.

"The reason it is an issue is because, for the first time since 1979, an American ambassador was assassinated and President Obama's foreign policy strategy of 'leading from behind' is failing," Saul wrote. "This administration has continually misled the American public about what happened in Benghazi and, rather than be truthful about the sequence of events, has instead skirted responsibility and dodged questions. The American people deserve straight answers about this tragic event and a president who can provide leadership, not excuses."

Filed under: 2012 • Foreign Policy • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (92 Responses)

    CNN is right next to NBC which is just below tabloid news.

    October 11, 2012 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  2. Anonymous

    It's insulting to hear Stephanie Cutter's state, "The entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," to a reporter. If my son had been one of the 4 killed in Benghazi and I watched the U.S. administration blantantly LIE and blame it on a movie in order to divert the attention away from hurting Obama's campaign for presidency... and I read this statement...I would slap her across the face! The reality is FOUR AMERICAN'S DIED! IT IS A BIG DEAL! And, you Stephanie and the Obama administration is a disgrace to the USA!

    October 11, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  3. hILLARY

    PLEASE, PLEASE SAY ANY OF THESE DUMB LIBERAL COMMENTS IN THE DEBATE SO I CAN WATCH THE REST OF THE TRAINWRECK. Even assuming budget cuts, use COMMON SENSE. Multiple warnngs and requests from the head of our security and Libya and the Ambassador himself were DENIED by the STATE DEPARTMENT. Sorry Libtards, but its out there, on the Internet, on Youtube EVERYWHERE, EVERYONE KNOWS THE TRUTH. All this BS wont work. LOSERS

    October 11, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  4. Tricia

    Ms. Cutter's arrogance is breathtaking. But so is her apparent disconnect from reality. Romney/Ryan politicized this???

    MS. CUTTER: 4 Americans died horrible deaths. One was our Ambassador. The reason was obfuscated or actually falsified by the administration. Political? MS CUTTER. THESE ARE OUR CITIZENS AND THIS IS OUR GOVERNMENT LYING. IT IS NOT ABOUT Republican or Democrat...it is about serious incompetence or actual cover-up by the Obama administration. Not all Democrats, the Obama administration!

    Hang your head in shame if getting Obama reelected is MORE IMPORTANT than recognizing incompetence or cover up in the Obama administration. Awful, truly awful, Ms. Cutter

    October 11, 2012 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  5. Jason


    There has been change in U.S. military burial protocol! This is a letter that my good friend's husband wrote today after his uncle's funeral yesterday.

    This is false. Snopes has debunked it. As a few more websites. In addition there is no offical wording. So if the presenting military officer changes the words that is their perogative.

    October 11, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |

    Who massively cut the military? DEMOCRATS made it part of the sequestered group the last time the debt ceiling came up.

    DEMOCRATS forced the cuts.

    October 11, 2012 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  7. JR

    The irony of this accusation is that it was in fact the Obama administration that made this political. It did so by perpetuating the YouTube video lie so as to avoid the negative publicity of a terrorist attack just before the election. Clearly, this lie was politically motivated, and all the Republicans did was call him out on it. This cover up was nothing short of criminal. SOMEONE (likely D.A.) came up with this scheme to blame 'a spontaneous response to a YouTube video' to absolve Obama of any blame for letting our guard down on 9/11 of all days.

    October 11, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  8. "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." --B. Obama

    Everyone knows the truth about Libya-why is the uhbama administration covering it up?

    October 11, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  9. Dr_Jack0040

    The killing of an American ambassador and three other Americans is political in the sense that "We the People" deserve to know the truth about what happened. I want to know if I should have confidence in the President in relation to his handling of security of American property and personnel abroad. As far as funding goes, I watched the entire hearing and MS. Lamb stated that it was not a money issue. The DSO sitting next to her stated that he had requested on multiple occasions additional security and Ms. Lamb stated that no mater what he asked for she would not fund it. Additionally, the military offered to provide continued security (at military expense) and was turned down. Bottom line, this incident should be a part of the political discourse as "We the People" decide who to trust for the next four years.

    October 11, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  10. California Gary

    So the committee is wondering how we could be so unprepared on September 11th that 4 Americans lost their lives are they? Where were they and their questions and accusations when our country lost thousands of Americans on an earlier September 11th? There was plenty of intelligence ignored in that case as well......not a peep from these fine folks then.

    October 11, 2012 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |

    This administration when it comes to Benghazi have hit every lie imaginable. Here's an idea Hussein Obama, try telling the truth FOR ONCE!!!!

    October 11, 2012 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  12. Sharon Halvorsen

    Stephanie Cutter goes from bad to worse, to worse yet......appalling. The Obama campaign is a DISGRACE. I am sick of the lies.......Obama lies

    October 11, 2012 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  13. Marty, FL

    Romney irresponsibly tried to politicize a national tragedy from the very beginning before all the facts were even revealed and has continued his reprehensible behavior.

    Romney also tried to politicize a Navy Seal when his mother never wanted Romney exploiting her son that way. She does not trust Romney.

    October 11, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  14. lisa grebner

    I am a channel flipper I will watch CNN, FNC,MSNBC, I want the major stories of the day to be covered equally and without spin. When you have so many News outlets not covering the parties equally it make you wonder if there is any need for them at all.I do not what the news media telling what I should think. I want the facts so I can make up my own mind. This White House is not being truthful when it comes to the middle east. This goes beyond Libya and the 4 that died.I want the truth and I deserve it from our President.

    October 11, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. fd28montana

    Liberals are the party of blame and lies

    October 11, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |

    Big Bird never wanted Obama to use his name yet, HE DID.

    October 11, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  17. Thomas

    This is sad , where all you people complaining now about Obama when GW Bush was President ?

    WMDs ?

    You people will use a border patrol agent , an Ambassador. Anything and Everything is Obamas fault !

    Yet you never change anything , you forget your own mistakes and never learn from them.

    Why don't you just deregulate it all , let the market work it out , maybe come down with Encephalitis and blame that on him as well .

    Romney / Bush
    More of the past 2012

    October 11, 2012 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
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