Team Romney slams administration, media on embassy attacks

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
Font Size:

The Romney campaign is punching back at the media-magnified Democratic complaints about Gov. Mitt Romney‘s quick criticism of the administration’s submissive statement prior to an expected Sept. 11 riot in Egypt.

“Team Obama is at it again today — leveling hypocritical attacks at Governor Romney,” even as officials’ statements matched his initial criticism, said an email from campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul.

The administration tried to balance the U.S. Embassy’s initial submissive statement by later criticizing the daytime riot in Egypt, and strongly criticizing the Islamist killing of the U.S. ambassador in Libya and three other U.S. officials a few hours later.

That administration’s rollback validated Romney’s quick criticism of the embassy’s statement, which declared that it “condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

If Romney’s criticisms “‘jumped the gun’ why were White House officials also distancing themselves from the [Cairo embassy] statement?” Saul said.

However, despite the distancing, the administration’s post-riot Sept. 12 statements also echoed the initial statement’s claim that criticism of Islam is improper.

Saul also used her email to slam the media’s suggestion that Romney’s quick criticism “jumped the gun” before the full facts were revealed.

The media’s “jumped the gun” claim follows a late-night tweet from President Barack Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt, who declared that “we are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack.”

After Romney’s critical comment late Sept. 11, the body count rose from one to four, according to news reports, which also reported that both attacks were launched by Islamists. Also, reports said that the ambassador in Libya had no U.S. guards, even though the Libyan government has yet to control the tribal and jihad militia that emerged when Obama used airpower to remove Libya’s dictators in 2011.

Much of political media’s coverage matched LaBolt’s line.

Two reporters asked Romney during a hostile press conference if he did “regret” his criticism. Another asked if he was politicizing the attack; “Shouldn’t politics stop for this?” the political reporter asked the political candidate during a political election.

“Some people have said that you jumped the gun a little bit in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available,” another reporter said during the mid-morning event. “Do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening?”

Saul also slammed Obama for evading reporters’ questions.

Unlike Romney, Obama turned his back on reporters’ questions after giving his Rose Garden statement. “Why didn’t President Obama take any questions from the press this morning to explain?” Saul asked.

Follow Neil on Twitter