Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich compared Mitt Romney’s knee-jerk reaction to the Libya attacks on the night of September 11 to Ronald Reagan’s handling of the Iranian hostage crisis during the 1980 election, arguing that both men were right to highlight failures in foreign policy.
“I went Friday night to see Argo ,” Gingrich said, referring to a movie about the Iranian hostage crisis. “I was reminded in the Iranian hostage crisis runs 444 days. Should Ronald Reagan not have talked about it for 444 days? Th fact is we were in the middle of a mess in the Middle East, and the mess keeps evolving.” Watch it:
But Gingrich is re-writing history in both counts. Romney’s early statement criticizing the U.S. embassy in Cairo and the Obama administration for failing to condemn violence and “apologizing” for America was premature and misunderstood the basic sequence of events. The embassy issued its initial remarks in an effort to calm protesters and before witnessing any violence. It later retracted its statement and Obama administration officials repeatedly condemned the attackers.
Unlike Romney, Reagan did not accuse then-president Jimmy Carter of sympathizing with terrorists. Instead, during the Iranian hostage crisis, he called for national unity. “This is a difficult day for all of us Americans. … It is time for us…to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection…when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers,” he said. And while Reagan did criticize Carter’s foreign policy throughout the campaign, “he refrained from attacking the Iran issue during his debate with the president once he sealed the nomination.”