Mitt Romney stood by his criticism of the Obama administration for allegedly “apologizing” for “our values” in the aftermath of attacks against American interests in Libya and Egypt. The violence was fueled by an American-made film depicting the Prophet Muhammad “as a child of uncertain parentage, a buffoon, a womanizer, a homosexual, a child molester and a greedy, bloodthirsty thug.”
In a hastily arranged press conference on Wednesday morning, Romney rebuked an early statement from America’s Egyptian embassy condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” — which the White House said was not cleared by Washington — and accused the Obama administration of sending “mixed signals” to the world. Romney then said that he agreed with President Obama’s official response:
ROMNEY: The embassy in Cairo put out a statement after their grounds had been breached, protestors were inside the grounds, they reiterated that statement after the breach…Apologizing for America’s values is never the right course.
REPORTER: Governor Romney do you think, though, coming so soon after the events really had unfolded overnight was appropriate, to be weighing on this as this crisis is unfolding in realtime?
ROMNEY: The White House also issued a statement saying it tried to distance itself from those comments and said they were not reflecting of their views. I had the exact same reaction. These views were inappropriate. [...]
REPORTER: What did the White House do wrong, then, Governor Romney if they put out a statement saying they disagreed with it? [...]
ROMNEY: They clearly sent mixed messages to the world, and the statement that came from the administration, and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation.
But the timeline of events undermines Romney’s claim that Obama “apologized” for the nation.
The Egyptian embassy issued its statement on Tuesday morning at 6:11 AM, before protesters broke out. Once they did, and another group of demonstrators attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, the Obama administration distanced itself from the early statement. “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,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in a statement.
“While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants,” Obama clarified in a statement on Wednesday morning.
Interestingly, former President George W. Bush struck a similar tone in 2006, after cartoons surfaced poking fun at the Prophet Muhammed and sparked protests in Europe. “Anti-Muslim images are as unacceptable as anti-Semitic images, as anti-Christian images, or any other religious belief,” Bush administration State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.