New York Times: "An extraordinary lack of presidential character"
Mitt Romney, who wants Americans to believe he can be president but showed an extraordinary lack of presidential character by using the murders of the Americans in Libya as an excuse not just to attack Mr. Obama, but to do so in a way that suggested either a dangerous ignorance of the facts or an equally dangerous willingness to twist them to his narrow partisan aims.Washington Post: "A discredit to his campaign"
Mr. Romney’s first rhetorical assault came Tuesday night in response to a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which was also besieged by demonstrators Tuesday. His statement claimed that the administration’s first response was “to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.” In fact the embassy statement was issued before the protests began; referring to an ugly anti-Islam film that was the focus of demonstrators, it condemned “those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious belief of others.”Los Angeles Times: "An outrageous exercise in opportunism."
His statement on the anti-U.S. violence in Libya and Egypt was outrageous and ill-conceived.Boston Globe: "His statement was offensive on many other levels…Romney’s actions raise more doubts about himself than Obama."
In reacting to the killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans, President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and some Republican members of Congress appropriately focused on mourning the dead and honoring their patriotism. Mitt Romney thinks he has a better idea: capitalizing on the attack to shore up his dubious campaign narrative that Obama is soft on radical Islam and apologetic about American values. It's an outrageous exercise in opportunism.
Not much is known about Romney’s views on foreign policy, and he benefits from the perception that, because he is bright and well-informed on other issues, he therefore would be a responsible steward of American diplomacy. But his actions on the campaign trail belie this image. He has been only too eager to revive the Bush-era approach of tough talk and military action as the default responses to threats in the world — an approach that proved utterly ineffective at thwarting guerrilla actions such as the one that killed US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others in Libya.Philadelphia Inquirer: "Mitt Romney didn't wait for expert assessments to use the four diplomats' deaths to launch his own verbal assault."
Romney’s actions raise more doubts about himself than Obama.
Unfortunately, because it is election season, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney didn't wait for expert assessments to use the four diplomats' deaths to launch his own verbal assault.Miami Herald: "Profoundly inappropriate"
Predictably, the attacks were quickly mired in political controversy at home. Candidate Mitt Romney jumped the gun in attacking Mr. Obama as an “apologist” because of a statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo before the assaults took place. Reacting to the death of U.S. diplomats by seeking to take political advantage is profoundly inappropriate.Tampa Bay Times: "The Republican nominee continued to exploit the situation"
This is a time for unity, as much as it was when Americans rallied behind President Bush 11 years ago. Wednesday’s events are reminders that the war that began on 9/11 is far from over.
There are unanticipated turns of events in every political campaign that provide insights about the candidates, their judgment and their grace under pressure. Romney's factual mistake, exploitation of an evolving situation in which Americans were killed, and poor timing is one of those moments.South Florida Sun Sentinel: "Irresponsible. And totally unwarranted."
There are still almost two months left in the presidential campaign — plenty of time for Romney and other Republicans to make their points, and criticisms, of American foreign policy. There will be upcoming debates, where Romney can directly challenge the president on his actions. That's fair game.Sarasota Herald-Tribune: "Prematurely lobbed off-base criticism"
But the immediate hours after a horrendous attack on American citizens abroad is not the time to further divide the American people in an attempt to push up poll numbers.
Irresponsible. And totally unwarranted.
When terrorists struck America on Sept. 11, 2001, the nation grieved together. Eleven years later, in the wake of another 9/11 attack -- which Tuesday claimed the lives of a U.S. ambassador and three other brave Americans at a consulate in Libya -- that spirit of unity was missing.Cleveland Plain Dealer: "Mitt Romney's trigger finger was so quick that he didn't even get it right"
In its place was partisan finger-pointing by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who prematurely lobbed off-base criticism at the wording of the U.S. diplomatic response.
He would have been wiser to reserve judgment for another time.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney's trigger finger was so quick that he didn't even get it right. Tuesday night, his campaign released a statement calling it "disgraceful" that the Obama administration's first reaction was "to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," but erroneously based that on a U.S. embassy statement in Cairo that had preceded the assault. Far from sympathizing, the statement was a simple expression of religious tolerance aimed at defusing tensions. It was not, as Romney repeated Wednesday, "akin to apology."Akron Beacon Journal: "Unfortunately, Mitt Romney chose to ignore the distinction."
So it made sense that Americans facing the mob in Cairo issued a statement that signaled an understanding of what triggered the protests. That statement may have reflected fear. It certainly attempted to bring calm, the message similar to that issued by the Bush White House when protests followed Danish cartoons mocking Islam. What shouldn’t be missed is that the statement was released long before the attack and the killings in Benghazi.Boulder Daily Camera: "For someone whose campaign has been studded with tone-deafness abroad, this was stunning, undiplomatic and undemocratic rhetoric."
Unfortunately, Mitt Romney chose to ignore the distinction. In a statement, the Republican presidential candidate expressed outrage at the attacks and the death of an American consulate worker. He then cudgeled the White House for a “first response” that did not condemn but showed sympathy “with those who waged the attacks.”
The idea of any American president, Republican or Democratic, taking such a stance is ludicrous. As it is, Romney strained in grabbing the moment to press a familiar campaign theme.
Leading Republicans including House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) -- some of the most strident voices against Obama's bid for a second term -- stood together as Americans. They decried the violence, mourned the dead, and expressed the resolve to continue to work for democratic peace in the region.Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Yes, it was sad and pathetic to see such callous and uninformed statements from politicians who couldn't wait until they had the facts to use an international incident for political gain."
That democratic peace relies on tolerance of people with different beliefs. Without that tolerance for other beliefs, it all falls to pieces.
That couldn't be more clear in the wake of the deaths in Libya. And stating that commitment to one of our core values is not an "apology" as candidate Mitt Romney tried to portray it. Not only irresponsibly, when he was clueless as to the extent of the attack but even the next morning when more information was available to him. For someone whose campaign has been studded with tone-deafness abroad, this was stunning, undiplomatic and undemocratic rhetoric.
Mitt Romney, the Republican nominee for president, was quick to criticize President Barack Obama, noting Tuesday night that he was "outraged by the attacks" and that it was disgraceful that "the administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."Denver Post: "Romney's reaction was out of line."
The chairman of the Republican National Committee, Reince Priebus of Wisconsin, tweeted: "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."
Sad and pathetic? Yes, it was sad and pathetic to see such callous and uninformed statements from politicians who couldn't wait until they had the facts to use an international incident for political gain. The former Massachusetts governor doubled-down during a news conference on Wednesday even as leading Republicans refused to play politics over the deaths of four Americans.
Republican candidate Mitt Romney was out line when he criticized the embassy statement for "sympathizing" with rioters. U.S. diplomats obviously have no sympathy for such criminals, and the statement doesn't imply they do.
Romney later stood by his hasty reaction, but he should back off. Four good public servants are dead — and no decent American sympathizes with the perpetrators.