The Washington Post editorial board, which is usually a reliable ally for Republicans on foreign policy, today offered sharp criticism of Mitt Romney’s claim that Obama sympathized with the attacks on Americans in Egypt and Libya yesterday, which left four American foreign service officers dead and others wounded. The Post said Romney’s attack “is a discredit to his campaign.”
While the Romney campaign’s unofficial press secretary Jen Rubin tried to rally some troops around the GOP presidential nominee, it doesn’t look like the day is turning out to be a big winner for Romney as Republicans are turning out en masse to denounce his attacks:
- “I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does.” — Former Bush administration DHS Secretary Tom Ridge
- “In the wake of this violence, the rush by Republicans — including Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin and scores of other conservative critics — to condemn him for policies they claim helped precipitate the attacks is as tortured in its reasoning as it is unseemly in its timing.” — Mark Salter, former chief of staff and top campaign aide to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
- “They were just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit based on the embassy statement and now it’s just completely blown up,” said a very senior Republican foreign policy hand, who called the statement an “utter disaster” and a “Lehman moment” — a parallel to the moment when John McCain, amid the 2008 financial crisis, failed to come across as a steady leader. … “This is just unbelievable — when they decide to play on it they completely bungle it.”
- But [a former Romney adviser] does have a good read on Romney — a man with a healthy sense of pride, and who’s already invested in the idea of Obama as an appeaser. It was the only plausible explanation the adviser could think of for how “they stepped in it,” in his words.
- “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors, say in the past few hours, perhaps since last night. Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go.” — Conservative commentator Peggy Noonan
- “This is a time when we all should reflect on those who continue to give, even the last measure, of service and sacrifice, to promoting and defending America’s interests abroad. This is above all a reminder that politics should end at the waters edge.” — Jon Huntsman, former Republican governor of Utan and 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
The Post editorial board had some advice for Romney. “He would do well to consider the example of Republican former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, who issued a statement Wednesday lamenting ‘the tragic loss of life at our consulate,’ praising Mr. Stevens as ‘a wonderful officer and a terrific diplomat’ and offering ‘thoughts and prayers’ to ‘all the loved ones of the fallen.’”
Obama shot back at Romney this afternoon, saying he has “a tendency to shoot first and aim later.” “It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts,” the president told 60 Minutes. “And that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”