What Republicans are saying about Romney's criticism of Obama and Egyptian, Libyan attacks

Obama’s response to Romney’s remarks: He “seems to have a tendency to shoot first, aim later.”
Photo: Mitt Romney steps off his campaign plane AP

WASHINGTON, September 13, 2012 — Notice that the Republican wagons are not rushing to circle GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney after his criticism of President Obama’s response to the siege of the Egyptian and Libyan embassies and the deaths of four Americans.

It’s been mighty quiet from top Republican leaders like Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House John Boehner. They had only words of support for our besieged diplomats and staff and words of condolences for the families of our Libyan embassy staffers and U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens.

Of course, Democrats jumped all over Mitt Romney, which is to be expected in an election year. President Obama also weighed in, pointing up the need for the Commander-in-Chief to act coolly and thoughtfully in moments of crisis. As he told “60 Minutes,” which will air the entire interview on Sunday, September 16, on CBS: Governor Romney “seems to have a tendency to shoot first, aim later.” It is a “broader lesson” about being Commander-in-Chief.

“As President, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that — that, you know, it’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts, and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”

Ambassador Stevens AP

There have been some Republicans speak out in support of Mitt Romney. A few members of the Right Wing cavalry rode to Romney’s defense such as Sarah Palin, Rush Limbaugh and South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint. Retiring Sen. John Kyl of Arizona even compared our Egyptian embassy’s twitter, trying to calm matters before the protestors turned in rioters, to a woman being blamed for rape.

He said: “It’s like the judge telling the woman who got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ OK? That’s the same thing. ‘Well, America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done – what I don’t know – but it’s your fault that it happened.’ You know, for a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don’t just do that in the spur of the moment.”

For the record, no one in the State Department or White House put out that statement. It was a twitter from a panicked Egyptian embassy staffer, hoping to quell an ugly situation that was happening outside the embassy walls.

Some Republicans are staying quiet or offering measured words such as Rep. Peter King (N.Y) who is the chair of the House Homeland Security Committee, saying while he agrees with the broader criticism of the Obama administration’s Middle East policy, Romney should have waited before issuing any statement. “I probably would have waited 12 or 24 hours” since “a quick statement,” if “something tragic does happen,” may “be perceived as being political.”

Basically Utah Sen. Mike Lee agreed with the King assessment. However both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) declined to speak on the Romney remarks. Graham would only say: “I’m really focused on Chris [U.S. Ambassador to Libya who was killed] and his family. I don’t want to get into…the political game about this yet. Let’s let some time pass and talk about the politics later. This is just not the right time to do a kind of political analysis.” Very diplomatic, Senator.

But other Republicans are shaking their heads and not holding back in their negative assessment of Romney’s words:

Senator Graham (S.C.) AP

Peggy Noonan, a former speech writer for President Ronald Reagan and a Wall Street Journal columnist, said on Fox News: “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors in the past few hours. When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you’re always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically.

“Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go.” Strong words from a woman known as a strong Romney supporter.

Mark Salter, a longtime aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), criticized Romney’s rush to condemn” Obama “as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing.”

Former New Hampshire senator  John E. Sununu said, “They [Romney campaign] probably should have waited. You look at the way things unfolded, you look at the timing of it, they probably should have waited.”

John Ullyot, a Republican strategist, compared the Romney remarks to a self-inflicted wound: “It’s developed into another distraction that has put foreign policy — not a strong suit for the G.O.P. ticket this time — front and center in an uncomfortable way in a campaign that is becoming less and less about the administration’s job record.”

Richard Armitage, former deputy Secretary of State under Republican President George W. Bush, said that Romney “will find out that first reports from the battlefield are always incorrect. This should be his mantra, so he can speak in a deliberate manner, and not have to repent at his leisure later.”

Former Congressman (R-Fla.) Joe Scarborough on his early morning talk show, “Morning Joe,” said that he thought Romney had made a terrible political blunder with his ill-timed remarks. “Not today,” Scarborough had tweeted.

The firestorm that erupted after Mitt Romney’s press conference on Wednesday, when he strongly reiterated his criticism of President Obama’s handling of the crisis in Egypt and Libya, is probably not what the GOP nominee was hoping for. And he certainly was not expecting attacks from within his own party.

Then he looked around for the Republican cavalry to come rushing over the hill and help defend him and lo and behold, it didn’t happen. I am betting that Romney is beginning to feel a bit like Gen. Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn.

To contact Catherine Poe, see above. Her work appears in Ad Lib at the Communities @ WashingtonTimes.com. She can also be heard on Democrats for America’s Future. She is also a contributor to broadcast, print and online media.


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Catherine Poe

Catherine was named one of the top Progressives in Maryland along with Senator Barbara Mikulski and Congresswoman Donna Edwards. She has been a guest of President Obama in the Rose Garden.

As past president of Long Island NOW, she worked to reform women's prisons in New York, open the construction trades to women, change laws to safeguard battered women, and protect the rights of rape victims. 

Long active in Democratic politics, she served as the presidentof the Talbot Democrats in Maryland for six years and fought to getthe Health Care Reform bill passed.

Catherine has been published in a diverse range of newspapers and magazines, including Newsday, Star Democrat, Rocky Mountain News, Yellowstone News, and the Massachusetts Review.

If Catherine has learned anything over the years it is that progressive change does not come easily, but in baby steps. 

Contact Catherine Poe

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