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U.S. Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney speaks at his Illinois primary night rally in Schaumburg, Illinois, March 20, 2012. REUTERS/Jim Young (UNITED STATES  - Tags: POLITICS ELECTIONS)
The Romney campaign's desperate flailing to justify its statements on the killing of American diplomatic staff in Libya grew a little more desperate and flaily on Wednesday afternoon with this:
"If Gov. Romney 'jumped the gun' why were White House officials also distancing themselves from the statement?" Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. "Why didn’t President Obama take any questions from the press this morning to explain?"
This is so bizarre it's difficult to know where to start. Let's turn to the Romney campaign's initial statement:
I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
Here, the Romney campaign is describing a statement released by embassy staff in Egypt hours before the protests started and more than 12 hours before it was made public that Americans had been killed as "the Obama administration's first response" to the killings. You can't respond to something you don't know will happen.

It's also a major stretch to characterize a statement put out by embassy staff as an official Obama administration response. Especially when it was put out before the events in question, but even otherwise. Embassy staffs don't issue the first official responses to events of national importance. You want to know what the official Obama administration response to the killings was? The one that came after they actually happened? It was the one by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, that's what it was. The one where she said:

I condemn in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi today. As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack. [...]

Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet. The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.

And after that, there was the one from President Barack Obama, who said, "I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens."

As for why the president didn't take questions from the press Wednesday morning, given that Mitt Romney had just personally doubled down on the previous night's statement, to near-universal disapproval, if he had taken questions, they would have been about Romney. Not taking questions was the only possible way for Obama to avoid politicizing his own response to the situation. And because he's a much, much better president than Romney could ever hope to be, Obama did avoid that.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Wed Sep 12, 2012 at 01:19 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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