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.

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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)
  1. jinx88

    Over the past 2 years Congress voted to reduce defense spending for the embassies by 500 billion in which Hillary told the Congress this would be trouble but yet Congress still cut the budget. So you can blame the Repukes just as much for cutting cost to protect these embassies. Look it up!!

    October 11, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  2. donna

    Let's face it.

    Obama is running a poor campaign. The President of the United Stattes of America is refusing to give up the Big bird commercials, or his blamegame, or calling Romney a liar, and now this, turning Libya into an issue. He needs to fire his campaign manager.

    October 11, 2012 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  3. Howard

    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.
    I was incensed at the conclusion of a traditional Serbian-Orthodox funeral for my beloved 85-year-old uncle, Daniel Martich, who proudly served in the US Army during the Korean conflict.
    During the committal service at a Pittsburgh cemetery the local military detachment performed their ritual, then folded and presented the American Flag to my aunt. As I'm sure you have witnessed during military funerals, a soldier bends to one knee and recites a scripted message to a surviving relative that begins 'On behalf of the President of the United States and a grateful nation, I wish to present you with this flag in appreciation for your husband's service ..'
    However, today the dialogue was 'On behalf of the Secretary of Defense and a grateful nation...'

    After the service, I approached the soldier who presented the flag to my aunt to inquire about the change in language. His response was: "The White House notified all military funeral service detachments to immediately remove 'the President' and insert 'the Secretary of Defense'. I couldn't believe what I heard!

    The soldier just smiled and said,"You can draw your own conclusion, Sir, but that was the order". He, too, was ashamed of what he was required to say.

    October 11, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  4. stephanie

    The problem is that Mitt Romney was already holding a press conference before the attack even occurred? If that is not politicizing a tragic event then I don't know what is. Then he had the nerve to pretend like he knew one of the men who died in his stump speech to appear as if he cared.

    October 11, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  5. Howard

    @EdR ... NO ... the worst thing that could happen to this country, is to ignore the REAL threats which exist in the world .. and, have Iran get the nuke ... and give it to terrorist groups ... and have dirty nuclear bombs ignited in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles ... and other major U.S. cities !!!

    October 11, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. rrd

    And the Obama camp tried to cover up what actually happened.

    October 11, 2012 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. scmom

    You actually have congressmen having hearings about the security for the consulate when they voted to cut funding for security for the embassies and consulates. This world is definitely gone crazy. One member was being interviewed and the cnn interviewer pointed this out that he in fact voted to cut security funding and he just rolled on over so he can blame the Obama administration. It is beyond pitiful.

    October 11, 2012 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. MaryM

    "Lying for the Lord" this is what the mormon church taught Romney, Lying

    October 11, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. wjmccartan

    Your arguement that these people who are asking the nation to vote for them shouldn't have to explain to the voters what that policy is whether its foriegn, taxes, healthcare, immigration, education. No that isn't how it works Joe. Unless you think an election should be done like "Let's Make a Deal" anybody for what's behind door # 4.

    Lucid One

    October 11, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Marty, FL

    The GOP House (including Ryan) insisted on making huge cuts to embassy security against the specific request from Sec of State Clinton not to compromise our national security.

    Rep. Chaffetz "absolutely" admitted the House cuts on our embassy security yesterday on CNN.

    October 11, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  11. Chipster

    Congress cut funding for embassy security by about $300 million last year and by about $100 million the previous year! Somebody needs to get a clue that taking shears to the budget and cutting funds to critical programs – like security – actually has consequences! It takes some nerve to take a hatchet to the security budget for these embassies and then complain that the President and the State Department didn't provide adequate security.

    October 11, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. Gurgyl

    "PEOPLE DON'T die in their apartment because they don't have insurance".–MITT ROMNEY. Watch on google, ot on http://www.huffingtonpost.com.

    October 11, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. Phred

    State Department turned down request for money to beef up security in Libya prior to attacks but had no problem throwing taxpayer dollars away for "new charging stations" and buying Chevy Volts at top dollar for Vienna and Oslo.

    And yes, that's on YOUR heads LibDems. Romeny and Ryan have every right to shine a spotlight on your Petty Tyrannt in the White House.

    October 11, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. dingbat36

    Knowing what we know now..........there are some people who need to rethink their insensitive attacks on Romney......he was RIGHT! The terrorists are obsessed with numbers 9/11/2001.....their claim ever since that they would strike us again on our "own soil" which is exactly what the land any American Consulate or Embassy rests on (anywhere in the world) is considered. American Soil! Does anyone with a brain actually think that an attack on our Libyan Embassy on 9/11/2012 was an accident or a protest? This was exactly ELEVEN years from the original attack.

    October 11, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  15. Ex-Army

    Maybe Ryan and Romney should try to understand that we have field personel, and trying to explain everything only exposes our assets on the ground. We had a second compound as a secret more fortified location less than 2 kilometers away, and those guys came to help and extract – but we can't disclose the location of all of our safe houses and all the ghost personel on the ground – they are ghost for a reason, and we need to protect those assets for future missions and stop talking about it – I can't believe our congress is this stupid. Every field guy knows that there are RDF and quick response teams all over the world, but do we need to announce it, and keep it in the media because Romney want to try and make it an issue against the Pres. We do not need someone like Romney in office, belive me!

    October 11, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |

    R&R made this attack political. Now you've got the Congressional Oversight Committee conducting premature investigations. You've evn got Willard the pathological liar invoking Mr. Doherty's name in his stump speeches. These guys are just low-lives and will say and do anything to gt elected.

    October 11, 2012 04:47 pm at 4:47 pm |
  17. 1twinsfan

    The mother of slain Doherty asked the Romney to stop using the name of her son for political gain and using the whole incident as an opportunity to bash Obama.

    The investigation is still ongoing. It's poor form to use this incident to boost your own lacking expertise in foreign policy.

    October 11, 2012 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  18. GI Joe

    Mitt Romney and Lyan Ryan are flipping and flopping so much even they can't keep up with what they really believe. Or maybe they just believe we believe their lies. I'm not stupid - sure hope the rest of you aren't.

    Ryan's plan will cut 7 million jobs in the U.S. in two years. Worse than Bush the last 8 or 9 months.

    October 11, 2012 04:53 pm at 4:53 pm |
  19. Mike

    All you Obama-bots that are on here now saying that the GOP cut spending is flat out stupid. Who is in charge, who is the President, who is the Sect. of State. Your wonderful king and queen dropped the ball, did not provide security when it was requested repeatedly, then they come out and lie about what happened to protect their image. Money obviously was not the issue, they were sending chevy volts and setting up charging stations to Embassy's but my God, we can't send any personnel and we can't arm the ones that are there. What about all the Green Energy handouts to donors who are not going bankrupt, guess we could have allocated that instead of flushing it down the drain. EPIC FAIL!! Nov 6th is take out the trash day!!!

    October 11, 2012 04:55 pm at 4:55 pm |
  20. The REAL Truth...

    @Four and The Door – It is not America's finest hour but then Obama has not been America's finest administration.
    True, but hands down it's streets ahead of the worst Republican Administration of ALL TIME !! - That of Dubya, and the SOLE root cause of the RECESSION that Obama was handed. Anyone with more than 2 functioning brain cells (doesn't include most on the right) can figure that out and VERIFY that for themselves. Don't expect the righties to go do that tho', they're too busy being told what to do by folks who have a hidden agenda.. Hahahaha

    October 11, 2012 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  21. Teresa Bee

    How dare Andrea Saul, Romney's national press secretary say," American people deserve straight answers about this tragic event and a president who can provide leadership, not excuses." How dare he. What kind of statesmanship comment is that except to make it a political statement and nothing more. Obama is HIS president too. No diplomacy whatsoever!

    October 11, 2012 05:03 pm at 5:03 pm |
  22. Captain Awesome

    This has all of the smackings of a world class, Nixonian cover up. Team obama knew immediately that THEY DROPPED THE BALL big time in Libya, so they quickly created a scapegoat – some video on YouTube that no one has seen. And the reason for creating this scapegoat is because they know that THIS COULD DAMAGE THEIR RE-ELECTION CHANCES in November, if the American people found out the truth that this administration is incompetent. Now their lies are catching up to them so now they blame Republicans. Do your job, CNN and start reporting this for what it really is – SCANDAL!

    October 11, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  23. The REAL Truth...

    @Mike – All you Obama-bots that are on here now saying that the GOP cut spending is flat out stupid. Who is in charge, who is the President, who is the Sect. of State.
    The [stupidly typical] total lack of knowledge of the workings of govt is continually displayed by the right, as evidenced by the above statement. NEWSFLASH – EDUCATION ALERT*** When it comes to funding the State Dept and Security, the source is Congress, NOT the POTUS. If you want to hate on Obama, by all means do so, but please get your FACTS straight (I know FACT is of little consequence to the right) before you spout off... it gives REAL conservatives a bad name.
    FACT – If Congress decides to cut $200 MILLION from the State Dept security budget, that has as much to do with the POTUS as does the price of gas. Get real, and quite being such a numbnut!

    October 11, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |

    This administration has been going all Chitown politics on the country for years now.

    Can't take your own medicine Hussein Obama?

    October 11, 2012 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  25. km4candles

    It was also in the proceedings yesterday, for those of you who obviously didn't watch it, but only took what the media told you, that the cut didn't have anything to do with the lack of personnel. The questions was asked point blank and answered. So get off that one. Romney did not respond to the attack before it happened. The plain truth is that for 7 days the administration was on tv stating that these deaths were because of a video. They knew it was a terroist attack the next day after it happened. They say they didn't have the results of the investigation... the stay off the talk shows and keep your mouth shut until you do. But to blame it on a video is freaking unbelievable.

    October 11, 2012 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
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