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Posted at 06:00 PM ET, 09/12/2012

Jon Kyl: U.S. Embassy statement like a judge blaming a rape victim


Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.), photographed March 29, 2011. (Saul Loeb - AFP/Getty Images)
We noted earlier today that most Republican lawmakers sounded a measured, somber tone in responding to the deaths of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans in Libya.

But comments made Wednesday by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) earned special attention from reporters. Kyl, like most Republicans, found no fault with Mitt Romney’s assertions that the State Department had been too soft in dealing with the initial attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt.

When asked by reporters, Kyl said that the Cairo embassy’s statement “was like the judge telling the woman, ‘You got raped, you asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ 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’ — done what, I don’t know — but it’s all your fault that it happened. 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 on a spur of the moment.”

Kyl opted not to run for reelection and is retiring from the Senate at the end of the year. His use of an analogy involving rape comes just weeks after comments by Rep. Todd Akin (R-Mo.) regarding “legitimate rape” led most Republicans to distance themselves from his U.S. Senate campaign in Missouri.

Other Republicans disagreed with the optics surrounding Romney’s comments.

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, criticized Romney’s timing in releasing the statement so soon, as many facts were still being sorted through and the death toll was still uncertain. Romney should have waited another 12 hours to criticize Obama, King said, suggesting that the GOP nominee now should use the controversy as a moment for him to “make a thorough policy statement” on his vision for Middle East diplomacy in a Romney White House.

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) added that he understood concerns that Romney might have spoken out too soon, but added: “I’m not going to be critical of Mitt Romney for looking out aggressively for the interests of the United States.”

But Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), two of their party’s most respected voices on foreign policy, both declined to comment on Romney’s tactics.

“I’m really focused on Chris and his family,” said Graham, referring to the ambassador. “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.”

Staff writer Paul Kane contributed to this report.

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