Operation Fast and Furious saw its presidential debate debut during Tuesday’s town hall-style faceoff when Gov. Mitt Romney brought up the scandal in response to a question about gun control.
“The greatest failure we’ve had with regards to gun violence, in some respects,” Romney said, “is what is known as ‘Fast and Furious,’ which was a program under this administration. And how it worked exactly — I think we don’t know precisely — but where thousands of automatic and AK-47-type weapons were given to people that ultimately gave them to drug lords [in Mexico].”
“They used those weapons against their own citizens and killed Americans with them. And was a program of the government.” (RELATED: Full coverage of Operation Fast and Furious)
“For what purpose it was put in place I can’t imagine, but it’s one of the great tragedies related to violence in our society, which has occurred during this administration, which I think the American people would like to understand fully,” Romney continued.
“It’s been investigated to a degree, but the [Obama] administration has carried out executive privilege to prevent all the information from coming out. I’d like to understand who it was that did this, what the idea was behind it, why it led to the violence — thousands of guns going to Mexican drug lords.”
In a night full of bipartisan interruptions, Obama cut in and asked moderator Candy Crowley to stop Romney.
“Candy,” Obama pleaded.
She obliged with Obama’s request and steered Romney off the topic.
Obama used his response time to accuse Romney of flip-flopping from supporting an assault weapons ban to opposing it — in order to get “the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.”
After that, the president quick-shifted into a change of subject.
“And Candy, we haven’t had a chance to talk about education much,” Obama pivoted. “But I think it is very important to understand that the reforms we put in place, working with 46 governors around the country, are seeing schools that are some of the ones that are the toughest for kids starting to succeed.”
“We’re starting to see gains in math and science,” he said.