Romney takes hits from fellow Republicans

September 12, 2012

Mitt Romney's response to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Cairo and a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya has gotten a negative reception from numerous Republicans -- some anonymous, some not. 

Several foreign policy hawks, including former U.N. ambassador John Bolton and Sen. Jim DeMint, have defended Romney's charge that President Obama's administration sympathized with America's attackers. But the Republican presidential candidate has also attracted critics in his own party for the way he handled the critique, both in a statement Tuesday night and a news conference Wednesday. 

“He bobbled it," Republican lobbyist Ed Rogers told the Post of the news conference. "It’s important that he present himself as serious, poised and credible during this time, and I thought his statement this morning was unpolished, a little too off-the-cuff for the occasion, and the contrast he set with Obama was not good.”

Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said Romney was "right on the larger point," but "I probably would have waited a day or half a day." The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol was also supportive of the Romney campaign's argument, but said it was fair to "question the timing and tone." 

Mark Salter, a longtime aide to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), called the "rush to condemn" Obama, by Romney and other Republicans, "as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing."

The Wall Street Journal's Peggy Noonan said on Fox News Wednesday morning that Romney "has not been doing himself any favors. ... I always think discretion is the better way to go."  

Anonymously, Republican critics were more blunt. 

"They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit," a "very senior Republican foreign policy hand" said to BuzzFeed. "Not ready for primetime," said a nameless former aide to John McCain in the same piece. 

And "several Republican aides and Romney advisers" told Politico that "Romney may have ended up further out on a limb than his team originally intended."

Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.
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Felicia Sonmez · September 12, 2012