WASHINGTON, DC — In an interview with ThinkProgress today, former Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge criticized the charge, made by Mitt Romney, that President Obama “sympathizes” with those who attacked and killed four Americans in Libya.
Romney said in a press release last night that “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.” (When the U.S. Embassy in Cairo first addressed the situation, no attacks had yet occurred. The first comment from the embassy on the issue was to condemn religious incitement.)
ThinkProgress spoke with Ridge, who served under President George W. Bush from 2003 to 2005 and endorsed Romney earlier this year, on Capitol Hill today to get his reaction. He was unwilling to criticize Romney directly — “I don’t want to get in the he said, she said” — but rebuffed his charge that Obama’s sentiments were with those who carried out the attacks. “I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us,” Ridge said. “I don’t think any American does.”
KEYES: Do you think that President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us and attacked the embassies?
RIDGE: No, I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does. I’m not going to question the strength of his words.
Romney is finding few defenders for his charge, even among fellow Republicans. Buzzfeed spoke with a senior Republican foreign policy hand who said that Romney was “just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit” and now it’s become an “utter disaster.” Top Republicans in Congress are also refusing to echo their presidential candidate’s in press releases.
Greg Noth contributed to this post.