October 11th, 2012
07:10 PM ET
8 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.

Tune to CNN for Thursday's vice presidential debate coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET on CNN TV, CNN.com and via CNN's apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Web users can become video editors with a new clip-and-share feature that allows them to share favorite debate moments on Facebook and Twitter.

"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)
  1. Borderless

    Poor Stephanie Cutter. She has the worst job in Washington right now. But she is quite deft at spinning. When Obama starts shopping around for new real estate in January and she finds herself out of a job, I hear Cirque du Soleil is looking for plate spinners. Can Stephanie ride a unicycle?

    October 11, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  2. Wilson

    Of course it is political, it shows how truly inept this administration is when it comes to foreign policy and protecting our citizens in such dangerous places.

    October 11, 2012 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  3. SafeJourney

    Hillary TOLD the Repubs that Her Dept Needed more Funds for the Embassy Security. But Nooooooo, Repubs would not hear of it.

    October 11, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  4. Lisa in Ga

    Refusing to beef up security in order to attempt to give the appearance of a stable middle east due to Obama admin policies, and that refusal getting 4 of our people killed because it's not stable, that's not the issue... it's Romney and Ryan talking about it. Is anyone actually buying this tripe

    Yep and the GOP are the ones who voted down a bill to INCREASE funding for security for them... then cited... we had to make tough choices.. please... see below

    and he is the main person leading the investigation... come with something else please................

    October 11, 2012 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  5. urnso2

    Did Cutter mention that as a member of NATO, we just enter into war against Syria.

    Or that Russia was just caught supplying weapons to Syria to fight NATO.

    Imagine a debate between Obama and Putin.

    October 11, 2012 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  6. SafeJourney

    Mitt Romney stops mentioning how he met ex-Navy SEAL killed in Libya after mother's complaint that he was using son's death for 'political agenda'!!!!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2012 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Wilson

    """Obama has proven to have a level head and will do what is right and NECESSARY... to protect this country. End of discussion."""
    Thank you for my laugh of the day. Laughed so hard nealy fell out of my chair at the sheer absurdity of that statement!!

    October 11, 2012 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. myviewis

    I heard that more security had been requested but the State Department rejected the request because they wanted to give the appearance that everything was fine in Libya.

    The New York Times said that a dozen violent incidents had taken place in the the previous months prior to the attack that had caused for them to request more security in Benghazi but their request was declined.

    October 11, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |

    Democrats would love if no one ever talked about their phuckups.

    October 11, 2012 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  10. Woman In California

    Ms. Cutter there is no use of trying to explain anything to hateful, rightwing Nazis. Since the day the president took office, they have been looking for his 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina "moments". Izza and his thugs have been circling the White House just for a chance to point fingers and rally their ignorant base. The fact is, the president has kept us SAFE and the Taliban is been reduced to ashes. There is no way, at this stage of the game, I would ever let Ryan and Willard take over that responsibility. Besides being amateurs, neither of them has proven they're capable of learning and dealing with foreign policy. A vote for Ryan/Romney is a vote for your children's death and I am not taking that chance.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 11, 2012 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. JimmiP

    You are right Stephanie, and the entire reason that Watergate had become the, you know, political topic it was, was because of Woodward and Berstein politicizing it.

    "The administration had been open and honest from day one about the atergate break-in," Cutter said "As more information became 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."

    October 11, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. MaryM

    Mother and Friend are Sickened by Romney’s use of Slain SEAL for Political Gain . I do not Trust Romney, Glen's mother said

    October 11, 2012 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Big_Bird

    As opposed to him using Big Bird as a political tool? Wheres his plans, wheres his ideas... Nothing but Romney did this and lied about that.

    October 11, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    Leave it to Obama/ Biden 2012 to try and use the botched Libyan security scandal against Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan.
    This is just another indication of how pathetic their campaign has become. It is not America's finest hour but then Obama has not been America's finest administration.

    October 11, 2012 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  15. Greenspam

    Biden will lose. He will lose to himself for misspeaking.

    October 11, 2012 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  16. Greenspam

    Obama: I got OBL, I completed pull out from Iraq, I replaced Libya regime with a democracy.

    Romney: You couldn't save the lives of 3 Americans in Libya. You have neglected the most important war in our next door neighbor – Mexican drug war.

    Romney: 1; Obama: 0

    October 11, 2012 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  17. Richard

    I saw the interview. Brooke did a great job. When Stephanie Cutter started laughing when asked about the 4 deaths in Libya, I started noticing signs of intoxication. Did anybody else notice her odd behavior? She then called Brooke some other name. Clearly intoxicated during interview. Is this the new trend in the Whitehouse

    October 11, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  18. Woman In California

    Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) of Utah and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Darrell Issa (R) of California, both claim the Benghazi consulate sought more security before the deadly Sept. 11 Libya attack, and they BOTH voted to cut the State Department's embassy security budget.

    Why dont' you republicans clean your own house first before pointing the finger at the Obama adminstration?

    October 11, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  19. Lee

    It is incredible that people are so blind to how this administration has handled this embassy issue. This is a huge coverup from the President , down. I have to tell you I don't feel safe as long as Obama is in office. At least with Bush I felt safe. He put into effect all these rule and regulations to keep us and our military safe. Obama has so weakened us around the world to the point that don't believe we would do anything to stop them. This administration has done everything in its power to appoligize for the USA the greatest country in the world..What are people thinking. We are viewed by the world as joke with a Joker President.
    I pray that Romney gets into office..IT REALLY IS TIME FOR A CHANGE. God Bless America and God Dam Obama as his Reverend White of 20 yrs so eliquently put it.

    October 11, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  20. Borderless

    Cutter, Obama's Minister of Propaganda, is going to have a monumental task ahead of her explaining what happened to Racist Joe during the debate. Does anyone remember Muhammad Saeed?

    October 11, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  21. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    Is it any surprise that Romney and Ryan would do this? It appears that the Republican members of the House are doing that as well.

    October 11, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |

    The GOP congress CUT funding for EMBASSY SECURITY worldwide, and now they want to make the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, a political ploy to score cheap political points!!!

    Let's talk about GOP CUTTINNG funding for US EMBASSY SECURITY all around the world....as admitted by Jason Chavez, the Mitt Robme GOP spokesman in congress!!!

    Just what Military or Foreign policy experience do we have between Mitt Robme and Lyin Ryan?: A BIG FAT ZERO!!!!!!

    Glad the CIA agent mom called Mitt Robme OUT for using her son's death for cheap political game. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!

    Mitt Robme is a DRAFT DODGER & NONE of his 5 SON's are signing up to JOIN THE MILITARY!!!!!....OBAMA 2012!!!!!!!!!

    October 11, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  23. Megamimi

    Even if this were not an election year, the mishandling and obfuscation by the Obama team would be cause for public debate and concern.

    October 11, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. not president hand out

    Stephanie, would you rather we focus on Big Bird? You are a joke.

    October 11, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. d50

    That's funny, I thought it became a political firestorm because obama lied about it being a spontanious protest.

    October 11, 2012 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
1 2 3 4