“Well, I think the president’s comments on ‘60 Minutes’ last night were quite revealing,” Romney said, according to a rush transcript of his remarks. “His indication that developments in the Middle East represent ‘bumps in the road’ is a very different view than I have. . . . I can’t imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road.”
Added Romney: “When you look at the entire context — the assassination; the Muslim Brotherhood president being elected in Egypt; 20,000 people killed in Syria; Iran close to becoming a nuclear nation — these are far from being bumps in the road. They represent events that are spinning out of the kind of influence we’d like to have. We’re at the mercy of events rather than shaping the events in the Middle East.”
On a Romney campaign conference call with reporters Monday afternoon, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) echoed that criticism, casting the recent events as part of “a pattern here that the U.S. finds itself on the receiving end and on the defensive in the Middle East.”
Cantor argued that Obama’s decision to make an appearance on ABC’s “The View” and his lack of any bilateral meetings with foreign leaders at the United Nations this week shows “a lack of willingness to lead in times of trouble.”
“There is a somewhat continued pattern of throwing Israel under the bus,” he added.
At Monday’s press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney was repeatedly asked about the comment as well as a remark by Obama in the “60 Minutes” interview that he’s “going to block out any noise that’s out there” regarding the U.S. relationship with Israel. Some Republicans have sharply criticized Obama’s handling of relations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The president, as you know, is not minimizing what we all recognize as historic transformations taking place,” Carney said, referring to Obama’s “bumps in the road” comment. And in a counterpunch to the Romney camp, Carney later added: “I understand that Republicans in this case are searching for reeds to grab on to, but I think the president’s views on these matters are very clear and very strong.”
Polling has suggested that Obama has the advantage over Romney on foreign policy. A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted this month, before the attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, showed that 39 percent of likely voters trust the president “a lot” to handle an international crisis, while just 26 percent said the same of Romney.