Romney doubles down on Obama criticism

September 12, 2012

In a press conference from Jacksonville, Fla., Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney stood by his criticism of President Obama over the handling of an attack on the American Embassy in Egypt and a deadly assault on a consulate in Libya.

On Tuesday night, Romney called the Obama administration's response "disgraceful" and sympathetic to the attackers in Egypt. He was referring to a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo -- released Tuesday before the Egypt embassy breach and the deadly Libyan attack in Benghazi -- that condemned anti-Muslim speech. The Egypt protests were sparked by an anti-Muslim film; it now appears that the Libya attacks may not be related.

"I also believe the administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions," Romney said Wednesday.  "It's never too early for the U.S. government to defend attacks on Americans and defend our values." He added, "The first response from the U.S. must be outrage."

Romney suggested that he embassy statement was a response to protesters who scaled the embassy walls, saying, "The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached. Protesters were inside the grounds. They reiterated that statement after the breach." The statement actually came out before the walls were breached, but embassy staff defended the comments in tweets after the breach. 

Saying that "the embassy is the administration," Romney argued that the president was responsible for sending "a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation."

He also defended the timing of his criticism the day before, adding, "I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles." He said that the White House distanced itself from the Cairo statement Tuesday night.  "I had the exact same reaction," Romney said, adding that the "mixed messages" from the administration showed a "lack of clarity." 

A full transcript of Romney's remarks is here.

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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