There seems to be a widely held opinion that Mitt Romney has committed a serious blunder with his decision to try to score political points against Obama following the attacks on middle east embassies that left several Americans dead. Not only was the timing incredibly crass, but the whole basis for Romney’s attack was factually inaccurate.
This is how NBC First Read viewed Romney’s original move:
After saying he was “outraged” by these attacks and the death of an American consulate worker, Romney said, “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.” Yet after learning every piece of new information about those attacks, the Romney statement looks worse and worse – and simply off-key. First, Romney was referring to a statement that the U.S. embassy in Egypt issued condemning the “efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.” But that embassy statement, which the White House has distanced itself from, was in reference to an anti-Islam movie and anti-Islam pastor Terry Jones, and it came out BEFORE the embassy attacks began.
Jake Tapper wrote that, “The evidence that the president “sympathizes with attackers in Egypt” was not immediately apparent, likely because it does not in any way exist.”
Ben Smith said it, “backfired badly among foreign policy hands of both parties, who cast it as hasty and off-key, released before the facts were clear at what has become a moment of tragedy.”
Peggy Noonan said that Romney wasn’t doing himself any favors, while Jeffery Goldberg’s reaction was far harsher. He said it was “ridiculous to blame Obama” for the embassy’s statement and called Romney’s attack “slander.”
Instead of walking back his original statement, Romney decided to double down on his attack at a press conference today. This move was even less well received. Mark Halperin called it the most craven and ill advised move of the year.
The level of open criticism from people in the media over the dishonest and poor judgment of this attack by Romney is significant. This could end up being a turning point in how Romney is viewed and depicted.