Campaign advisers spar on Libya
October 14th, 2012
10:35 AM ET
9 years ago

Campaign advisers spar on Libya

(CNN) – The assault on an American diplomatic post in Libya that left four Americans dead provided surrogates for both presidential candidates with fodder for political attacks Sunday, two days ahead of a critical debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama.

On CNN's "State of the Union," Romney adviser Ed Gillespie echoed an attack line the GOP nominee delivered last week, insisting that Vice President Joe Biden's assertions at the vice-presidential debate didn't match congressional testimony from State Department officials.

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"Vice President Biden directly contradicted the sworn testimony of the State Department in the debate the other night. That led to another round of kind of nuancing by the White House," Gillespie said, adding: "There are inconsistencies here, and I think as Americans we deserve to know what really happened going into this attack."

In the debate Thursday, Biden said, "We weren't told they wanted more security" at the diplomatic facility in Benghazi, Libya. State Department officials testified at a congressional hearing on Wednesday that they requested more security but were turned down by headquarters in Washington.

Robert Gibbs, also speaking with CNN chief political correspondent Candy Crowley on "State of the Union," said those requests were handled by the State Department and not by the president or vice president.

"Security requests at our embassies and consulates and our buildings throughout the world obviously go to the State Department. Those are the people that should be making those decisions," Gibbs said, adding, "Nobody wants to get to the bottom of exactly what happened more than this president and this administration."

Gibbs also rejected the Republican criticism of the Obama administration, saying the president's rivals were seeking political gain from the national tragedy.

"We don't need wing-tipped cowboys or shoot-from-the-hip diplomacy," Gibbs said, pointing to widespread criticism of Romney's initial response to the attack in Libya, as well as a protest at the American Embassy in Cairo that occurred the same day.

The sparring on Sunday came after a week that saw the Libya issue surface on the campaign trail as well as in Congress. At the hearing Wednesday, Republicans insinuated that Obama's administration was responsible for a lack of preparedness ahead of the attack in Benghazi on September 11, 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.

Gibbs said Sunday that what "everybody has been saying at every moment in this great tragedy has been the best information that we have when we have it available."

"We're learning stuff each and every day about what happened," he continued. "That's what an investigation is supposed to do."

Pressed by Crowley on whether the president was responsible in any way for the United States' situation in Libya, Gibbs said, "The administration is responsible."

"Countries that provide us consulates and missions are responsible also for keeping those people safe and secure," he added.

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Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. Frank

    People of the United States of America,
    President Obama and Secratary Clinton are both responsible fot the failure of "INSIGHT","PLANNING" and Communication in not seeing a potential threat in Libya which caused the Ambassador his life.

    October 14, 2012 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  2. nina

    Helloooo...mitt romney is a say anything to get elected candidate..I can't believe he is politizing on this tragedy. I also think that pple really need to research romney...follow his money....taxes? oh wait, he won't release them. And are the american pple in general really that ignorant in failing to see that mitt romney has flip flopped on EVERY issue? I say if america makes the same mistakes they did 8 yrs ago.....don't complain when your country turns back in time i.e. Roe vs care etc. Power to romney & BAIN capital....look up interesting facts on david pakman – you tube!!! He's a mulit-wealthy Rich man who's sole job is to MAKE $$$ The only difference between him & bush is bush was incompetent...mitt actually knows what he's doing which makes this whole idea of him as president VERY SCARY!!!

    October 14, 2012 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  3. vic , nashville ,tn

    I gave up on our politicians they lied, they are lying they will lie Now I almost very close to give up on main stream media
    I use to watch CNN 24 x 7 from 1992, now I watch starting point, situation room, state of the union, GPS, Reliable sources reason one breaking news stay in CNN nearly 2 to 3 weeks in prime time example Benghazi I am tired ( not only me many others media ratings shows that)

    Why Media didn’t go after Libyan government? They are responsible for this

    October 14, 2012 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  4. Larry L


    @Larry L, I spent 6 years in the US Army, Obama spent zero years, and Springsteen spent zero years in the Military as well. How about you, what did you do in the Military..... Stop talking about others and put up or shut up!!
    I'm a retired Colonel. My 32 years of commissioned Army active duty service with over eight years deployed isn't the subject. Romney was called to service and hid behind his religion – something he admits. He really was languishing on the beaches in France while our Warriors were being killed in Vietnam. Now, he's a "chicken-hawk" ready to send other kids to war. That's the subject. Lashing out at other veterans is foolish.

    October 14, 2012 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    @ Frank
    April, 18 1983 worse attack on U.S Embassy Beirut 17 Americans died
    Oct 23 1983 suicide bomber killed 241 U.S. Marines
    How close these two incidents but Still Ronald Reagan is Hero

    October 14, 2012 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  6. Larry L

    @ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    @Larry L: "@"If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." –B. Obama"

    Larry, grow a pair and watch President Obama's COMPLETE statement, not just the clip Fox has shown you to further their agenda of lies.
    You might want to read the ENTIRE posting. You'll notice I'm the one supporting your statement. It;s not "ready, shoot, aim..."

    October 14, 2012 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  7. Four and The Door

    Refusing to take responsibility for anything. Typical Obama. Has he declared Executive Privilege on this one yet?

    October 14, 2012 11:49 am at 11:49 am |
  8. jpmichigan

    Those responsiblie for the murdering of 4 Americans, are those who now place the blame on others. Rsponsiblity, accountable and truthwortiness is one the most important qualities that necessary to govern and lead in this great nation. More value was placed on campaining and passing the buck. The Obama administration should have, as soon as the learned American were killed, they should have made it priority one. I for one, do not feel safer or better off than I was 4 years ago. Terrorist are alive and well, even though their leader is gone, THIS IS A REAL FACT, that this administration has yet to really grasp!!!

    October 14, 2012 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  9. Pete

    Did Gillespie tell everyone how Romney came out before the president showing his ignorence again in foriegn policy by stating that the incumbent should have known if a request was made for more security in Libya at the embassy when in fact its the state departments job to do it.Did he also state how republicans were the ones who cut the security budget by 400 million,didn't think so.Republicans now pointing fingers because of their obvious ignorence in everything,just ask Darrell Issa yah know the committe chairman who went after Eric Holder in Fast Furious spending millions in another witch hunt but getting nothing and now the same arrogent nitwit trying to nail Hillary a well in ambassador Stevens and three others deaths,where will that go before everyone says knock it off Issa,quit spending our money on nonsense,get the jobs,infastructure bills you republican obstructionists promised us in 2010,just where are they,ha guys promises,promises!!Hey you republicans just turned down the vets job bill and walked out on a bill helping drought stricken farmers,remember buds they won't forget about this in November so don't expect miracles for you at the polls,you're gone!!

    October 14, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  10. NVa Native

    This is a typical radical rightist’s “blame and distraction”. There is nothing to this Rove/Frank Luntz fantasy that the President is to blame for the attack on a US consulate. It’s clearly just GOP grasping at straws to diminish all the great work the President and Clinton have done on the world stage to promote their candidate who still thinks Russia is our greatest geo-political enemy.
    Why does the right always try to turn every painful American event into a political gain? It’s disgusting to see such anti-American rhetoric used over and over for political reasons.

    October 14, 2012 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  11. vic , nashville ,tn

    ***** Candy Crowley *******
    Wishing you the best of luck

    October 14, 2012 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  12. NVa Native

    Why is it that the fox followers and ditto heads "believe" bullies are strong and intelligent, and the rest of American and the civilized world know bullies are weak on every level.
    Larry – just pulling nonsense out of your butt to try to attack people with is not exhibiting any kind of strength – bullies are not strong and can never be heroes.

    October 14, 2012 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  13. Rick McDaniel

    Nothing to spar about. The facts are the facts. Obama lied to the people, he knew he was lying to the people, and he doesn't CARE, that he lied to the people.

    That IS the bottom line.

    October 14, 2012 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  14. 1twinsfan

    If the Libya incident had happened a year ago then it would be fair game. But it just happened and it's an ongoing investigation. As such, Gov. Romney needs to leave if off the political table.

    October 14, 2012 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  15. palma06

    To @ LarryL and @URNOTDAVE:

    Thank you both for your service to our coutry. Romney was not a draft dodger. He had his number like millions of others, but his number was never called. He did not run to France and hide, he was never drafted.

    In France he did his mission for his religious committment. When his mission director was killed in a car crash that almost killed Mitt Romney too, Romney continued the mission while assuming the director’s postion. So he didn’t run from anything.

    October 14, 2012 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  16. vic , nashville ,tn

    “The father of Christopher Stephens, the United States ambassador who was killed in the attack in Libya last month, said Saturday that it would be “abhorrent” for his son's death to be politicized in the presidential campaign”. Bloomberg news

    October 14, 2012 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  17. Dav

    obama failed in first debate,biden failed in his first debate-obama's failed administration just keeps on failing.bye obama 2012
    advice from biden, smile like a deranged lunatic and interupt like a 5 year old.

    October 14, 2012 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  18. Louden Swain

    @ Larry L- you know absolutely nothing about the Mormon religion. As a colonel I expect more from you. But judging by how many years you served. You may have lost some common sense over the years and I will cut you a break.

    October 14, 2012 12:27 pm at 12:27 pm |
  19. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    @Frank: What is your opinion of GW Bush ignoring the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing entitled, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."? Bush not only ignored this, he ignored Richard Clark and the Clinton transition team who tried to warn them about bin Laden and coordinate handing off vital information about him and al Qaeda.

    You may remember the result of this willful ignorance: Over 3,000 dead on 9/11.

    October 14, 2012 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  20. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    @Larry L: You might want to read the ENTIRE posting. You'll notice I'm the one supporting your statement. It;s not "ready, shoot, aim..."

    I don't know if CNN posted it, but I posted a later comment apologizing for not reading your post carefully, mistaking the screen name you were referencing for your own comments. Again, sorry for not reading carefully.

    October 14, 2012 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  21. DorisV

    Sometimes I feel that there is a communication problem between departments in our government. Also, having hired mercenaries instead of regular military people is troubling. Using these issues for campaign fodder is just nasty. Time to learn how to act like civilized people.

    October 14, 2012 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain: Hey, networks, fact-check the debates in real-time and put it in the crawl!

    Folks can yammer on all they want about Mittens' mission in France being the fulfillment of his religious obligation; that doesn't change the FACT that, like so many other chicken-hawk Repubs, he also took several college deferments to avoid serving. (John Kerry could have done the same, but chose to fight for his country instead.)

    BTW, it's not mandatory for Mormon men to do a mission, although there is tremendous pressure to do so.

    What really burns me and should burn everyone is that Mittens protested in favor of the Viet Nam war; then said he never did anything to avoid service; then said he wished he could have fought in it.

    This kind of flip-flopping is what is so disgusting – and what makes him completely unqualified to be POTUS.

    October 14, 2012 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  23. sifto

    bottom line–the buck stops with the POTUS–he found time to go to vegas and the view–no time to have security session briefings daily–if you people believed his lies about the video at the UN meeting,–what other lies are you willing to believe?

    October 14, 2012 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  24. sifto

    and frank, GWB is not running for POTUS–Mitt Romney IS....

    October 14, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  25. CBR

    The Congressional hearings are premature at best. Those who testified did not represent the State Dept. Darryl Issa started these hearings and he has a long history of opposition to the President. Why these hearings are now a basis of a barrage against the President is really not the definitive answer.

    Come of folks let's not be premature here. Remember, Mr. Bush and 9/11. The Republicans certainly did not blame Mr. Bush for that and I do think that the country rallied around the administration until the country had some time to absorb what happened. 9/11 taught us that we cannot defend every American every day. It is not possible particularly because these terrorists can operate on a moment's notice. It is important to find out who instigated this or if it was a chance encounter.

    October 14, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
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