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Could Foreign Policy Cost Mitt Romney The Election?

Yesterday’s events in Egypt and Libya have, quite suddenly, thrust foreign policy into the campaign limelight in a year in which the primary focus of the election to daye has been the economy, jobs, and issues related to them. Most notably, the incident has been marked in its early hours by a rather fumbling response by the Romney campaign which Mitt Romney himself doubled down on during a press availability this morning. The Obama campaign and its surrogates have understandably jumped on the Romney comments. However, even before the tragic events yesterday and Romney’s fumble, the Obama campaign had been engaging a rather pointed attack on Mitt Romney focused on the area of foreign policy:

Mitt Romney is getting the full John Kerry treatment on national security — and some top Republicans are alarmed by what they see as his ham-handed response to it.

Romney — whose convention speech didn’t include a salute to the troops or a reference to Afghanistan, where about 75,000 Americans are still at war — is getting hit almost daily now by Democratic attacks that he is wobbly and therefore untrustworthy on national security.

It’s the same critique Republicans used to undermine Kerry to devastating effect eight years ago — and the Obama campaign plans to use the run-up to the presidential debates to make a major issue of Romney’s surprising convention stumble.

(…)

Obama advisers tell POLITICO that they expect to cite the convention-speech omission repeatedly in coming days as evidence that Romney is not ready to be commander in chief and is not being frank about what he would do if elected, including his policy on Afghanistan. The campaign plans to use Romney’s omission as a key talking point in events aimed at military families and veterans in Virginia, North Carolina and other swing states where many voters have relatives or neighbors serving in combat.

The Obama team also is beginning to point out that Romney’s address failed to mention Al Qaeda, a staple of the two earlier post-Sept. 11 Republican presidential campaigns. Several top Republicans said that, besides the short-term damage to his own campaign, Romney’s perceived neglect of national security could hurt the party in the long term if he loses because the issue has been a traditional Republican touchstone.

In essence, many of the same Democrats who accused Republicans of playing politics with war in past elections are playing politics with it this time around.

More interestingly, the Politico story notes that several top Republicans are apparently quite frustrated with the manner in which Romney and his campaign are essentially handing the issue of foreign policy to the Democrats without much of a fight:

Some officials close to the Romney campaign said it’s especially exasperating because of advice Romney received from some advisers, both internally and externally, to visit Afghanistan and talk to commanders during his foreign swing that began at the Olympics. “Obama is the master of details, and he will try to destroy Mitt on this in debates,” one hawkish Republican said.

Chris LaCivita, a Republican consultant who was an adviser to the Swift Boat campaign against Kerry, said: “You’re not just running for president — you’re running for commander in chief. What he needs to do now is show members of the military, their families and voters in general that he is capable of leading the country on issues other than the ones he is most comfortable talking about.”

(…)

For Romney, according to top Republicans, the danger is that he has dug an even deeper hole for himself in an area that was already an Obama strength and looks oblivious to the concerns of a crucial Republican constituency — military families and veterans. A CNN poll out Monday found 54 percent of likely voters say Obama would better handle foreign policy, compared with 42 percent who favored Romney.

“When you look at the cultural connection to the military in regions of the country where he needs to over-perform, this opens him to charges that he doesn’t get it — that he’s disconnected from a fundamental part of the Republican constituency,” said Steve Schmidt, senior adviser to McCain in 2008 and key player in the 2004 effort to take down Kerry.

“Democrats, for the first time in a generation, have seized the advantage on national-security issues. That is a remarkable political occurrence. At a time when we have troops in harm’s way for the 11th year, the failure to mention them opens him to a very predictable counterattack.”

A Republican official who works closely with the Romney campaign said, “Defense is not an issue you concede to the Democrats, and that seems to be what the Romney campaign is content to do. You lose close elections because of missed opportunities, not major gaffes. They should welcome a debate about national security, but he goes into the debates on the defensive.”

When I was watching the final night of the Democratic National Convention, the thought occurred to me that, for the first time in my memory, a Democratic candidate for President has a clear an overwhelming advantage when it comes to foreign policy. While Mitt Romney has played a good rhetoric game on issues like China, Iran, and Afghanistan, the fact of the matter is that he lacks any real experience in international relations and, throughout the campaign, he hasn’t necessarily demonstrated a particularly adeptness in the area. Many of his statements in the area boil down to little more than meaningless conservative talking point that sounded good to the base during the course of the Republican primary fight, but don’t really seem to resonate very well now that he is the nominee of the Republican Party. In selecting Paul Ryan as his running mate, he went for a candidate with experience in economic and fiscal issues, which is understandable, but with no significant experience in, or reputation for, foreign policy areas. Then, for some reason, he walked up to a podium in Tampa two weeks ago and decided that he would not talk about Afghanistan or the troops at all in the most important speech of his political career. In doing so, he left a door wide open and the Obama campaign his running right through it.

The goal of the Obama campaign focusing on Romney and foreign policy is, quite obviously, to try to draw attention to the fact that in this particular area he isn’t prepared to be President. This is the kind of situation where it would be perfect for the Obama campaign to create its own variation on the famous “3:00am Phone Call” ad that Hillary Clinton’s campaign ran during their legendary fight for the Democratic nomination in 2008. It’s really all quite remarkable, and, as Buzzfeed points out, potentially pivotal:

Instead of weakness, however, the Obama administration has projected strength. On the campaign trail, crowds become electrified when the president or his surrogates mention the killing of Bin Laden. The president talks about ending the war in Afghanistan, and protecting veterans.

Romney, on the other hand, has fumbled. The past six weeks have seen a rocky overseas trip, followed by his failure to mention U.S. troops or the war in Afghanistan in his acceptance speech. And although foreign policy hasn’t been much of an issue in 2012 so far, the Obama campaign sees an opening to make it one. While still acknowledging that the election isn’t going to be decided by national security — the president and his campaign have gone all out to put doubts into the electorate about Romney’s ability to handle foreign affairs.

Privately, Obama allies will make case that Romney and Ryan possess an almost Palin-esque naivete to the world. Publicly, too: Senator John Kerry linked Romney’s comments on Russia as the number one geopolitical threat with Palin’s comment on seeing that country from Alaska. Romney appears “reckless” and “out of touch,” as one campaign official put it. All of this is laying the groundwork for what could be one of the most pivotal moments of the campaign—the final presidential debate, just two weeks before the election. The topic: foreign policy.

Daniel Drezner also suggests that, even in the middle of an election where the economy is the number one issue for pretty much every voter and certainly every swing voter, could be a decisive factor in the election:

[I]f the economy doesn’t produce the national poll movements that the Romney campaign wants, they’ll have to shift to secondary issues.  For the last forty years, the GOP has been able to go to foreign policy and national security.  If Romney does that this time, however, he’ll alienate the very independents he needs to win.

Could Romney/Ryan simply retool their foreign policy message for the general election to allay the concerns of independents and undecideds?  No, I don’t think they can.  For one thing, it’s simply too late to rebrand.  For another, when cornered on these questions they seem to like doubling down on past statements. Finally, I get the sense that one reason Romney sounds so hawkish is because the campaign thinks it’s a cheap way to appeal to the GOP base.  Deviating from that script to woo the undecideds will only fuel suspicion of Romney’s conservative bona fides.

So maybe, just maybe, foreign policy will matter a little bit during this election.  And not in a way that helps Mitt Romney.

It’s certainly possible, I suppose. As noted above, the final debate in October will be focused exclusively on foreign policy and it takes place a mere two weeks before the election. Even if foreign policy issues don’t end up being the most important issue in the election, and absent some crisis in the next nine weeks I doubt it will be anywhere near the top, an effective attack on Romney in this area could be quite effective for one very simple reason. Like any candidate challenging an incumbent President, Romney needs to establish that he would be able to take over as President starting on January 20, 2013.  Notwithstanding Romney’s qualifications as an executive both in the public and private sector, there’s no doubt that his experience with regard to foreign policy is minimal to non-existent and it’s only rational for the Obama campaign to hit him on that topic, especially given the fact that the President has been getting consistently high marks on foreign policy for the better part of two years now.

As for Romney, his initial response to the situation in Egypt in Libya has left much to be desired. Based on a wholly incomplete version of the truth, his campaign issued a statement that tried to hold the Obama Administration responsible for a statement issued by the Cairo Embassy yesterday that was never approved by anyone in Washington according to all credible reports. You can, perhaps, chalk that up to a rookie mistake by a campaign that hasn’t really been spending much time talking about foreign policy. However, that excuse doesn’t apply when the truth of the situation became evidence and Romney still chose to continue the previous evening’s political attack:

Once again, unexpected and frightening events abroad have planted themselves squarely in the middle of a presidential race at home – and Mitt Romney on Wednesday sought to capitalize politically with a searing slam on President Barack Obama.

Romney ripped the White House for a since-disavowed statement from the U.S. embassy in Egypt that came on the day that mobs attacked the American embassy in Cairo. The GOP nominee said the embassy’s statement was “akin to apology” and he called it “disgraceful to apologize for American values.”

“It’s their administration,” Romney said at a press conference on the campaign trail in Florida. “Their administration spoke. The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also the words from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department. They clearly sent mixed messages to the world. And the statement that came from the administration—and the embassy is the administration—the statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology. And I think it was a severe miscalculation.”

Reacting to Romney’s morning presser, Time’s Mark Halperin said this:

Unless the Romney campaign has gamed this crisis out in some manner completely invisible to the Gang of 500, his doubling down on criticism of the President for the statement coming out of Cairo is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign.

I couldn’t agree more. The statement issued last night was ill-advised and dumb, but at least the campaign had the excuse of not being aware of the facts behind the embassy statement. Nearly twelve hours later, after we not only knew the truth behind the Cairo Embassy statement but also knew that four Americans, including an Ambassador, had died was there any attempt by the Romney campaign to walk back their ill-advised statement? Of course not. Instead we got this:

A worse response to the news of the deaths of four Americans who were serving their country I cannot possibly imagine. Worse yet for Romney, it was sandwiched between televised statements by Secretary of State Clinton and President Obama that made his attempts to characterize the Obama Administration in the manner that he did look foolish and ham-handed. Remarkably, if the talking points now being distributed by the Romney campaign are any indication, they are going to continue to push this message and look as if they are politicizing the deaths of four Americans. This does not reflect well on Mitt Romney at all, and you can be sure that the Obama campaign and its surrogates will, at some point, be hammering this home as well.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    Mitt Romney is unfit for office.

    He’s making it look as if the GOP passed up a good thing in Herman Cain.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 74 Thumb down 2

  2. Jr says:

    Talk about a game-changer.

    I thought Foreign Policy would be irrelevant to the election…..but Mitt may have just sealed his fate.

    The response was amateurish and the optics were just as bad, I mean they even got a shot of Mitt smirking as he left the podium. Meanwhile contrast that to Obama and Clinton looking dignified yet remorseful.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 37 Thumb down 0

  3. mantis says:

    Could Foreign Policy Cost Mitt Romney The Election?

    Let’s hope so, or it will cost the United States of America a whole lot more.

    Unfit for office is right. I’m waiting to hear James weigh in on this, since foreign policy is his wheelhouse. Will he continue to support the Mittastrophe?

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 41 Thumb down 0

  4. PJ says:

    This is 2008 all over again, except in 2008 it was McCain and the economy.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  5. Markey says:

    Mitt Romney´s campaign manager and handlers are doing a HECK of a job..

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  6. Modulo Myself says:

    That wasn’t even a mistake. The guy flat out said that the President of the United States sympathized with a mob attacking an American embassy. Either he believes that (in which case he is an utter f—ing moron) or he is so casually bankrupt that there’s not a thing he won’t say or do.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 64 Thumb down 0

  7. legion says:

    Foreign Policy is a symptom, but it’s not the root issue. The more I see of Romney in public, unscripted situations, the more I see of an utterly insulated person. This has nothing to do with political philosophy, it has to do with privilege… like many extremely wealthy and/or powerful people, he has spent his life surrounded by layers and layers of handlers whose only job is to keep him happy. From within that bubble, he never makes mistakes, he never has shortcomings; he’s perfect as-is and never has to change unless he wants to. Every problem is a failing in someone else, and everything he needs to know consists of what he knows right now. You can see that in Romney’s initial reaction, and in his continuing to double-down on the rhetoric.

    Again, it’s not Foreign Policy at the root – it’s basic maturity and suitability for office. He doesn’t grasp that millions of human lives depend on the performance of the person in the White House. He doesn’t see this election – or the idea of being President – as anything other than just another golf bet.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 38 Thumb down 0

  8. J-Dub says:

    douche-bag

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  9. Fiona says:

    As for Romney, his initial response to the situation in Egypt in Libya has left much to be desired.

    Into understatement much? Romney’s initial response to the incident, slamming the Obama administration before all the facts were in, was rash and ill-considered. Doubling down on his initial misstatement after the facts came in was despicable. It shows he’s all to willing to use a tragedy to score political points, even if it means he has to stretch the truth to its breaking point.

    The jingoistic elements of Romney’s acceptance speech were among the elements of the speech I found most infuriating suggesting, as they did, that he might be reckless in his use of American power. His response to the latest turn of events does nothing to quiet my fears that he’d quickly involve us in yet another pointless Middle East war. Moreover, his unwillingness to lay off the inflammatory politics for at least a day or two to honor the American civill servants who died in the attacks demonstrates, yet again, his utter tone-deafness to the needs of actual human beings. Even Bush Ii, jackass that he was, knew when to set politics aside and show some genuine compassion.

    Romney’s truly unfit for the office he seeks to inhabit.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 39 Thumb down 1

  10. Tsar Nicholas says:

    Hell, this is nothing. By late-October Politico and their ilk will be writing that everything potentially will cost Romney the election. Foreign policy. Domestic policy. The economy. Entitlements. His religion. His wife. His kids. The weather. The price of tea in China. His walk. His talk. Todd Akin. Ted Kennedy’s ghost.

    That aside, it’s about the stupid, economy. That and demographics. And turnout among partisans.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 42

  11. mantis says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Either he believes that (in which case he is an utter f—ing moron) or he is so casually bankrupt that there’s not a thing he won’t say or do.

    The latter.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  12. Modulo Myself says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    Dude, if the people conspiring against you are doing it through reporting what you say, you need to say something different, a better conspiracy, or an alternate country to live in.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  13. Jr says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: If the election was about the economy……Romney would have been leading since May.. Face fact, the election is about choice.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 13 Thumb down 0

  14. MBunge says:

    Romney just made the same mistake that almost got Karl Rove tossed behind bars. The diplomatic corps is part of the Beltway Village. Reporters, politicians, lobbyists and activists know people who work in the corps or they know people who know those kind of folks, the kind who are largely regarded as being trustworthy, admirable, non-political figures.

    Mike

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  15. Mr. Replica says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    I’m not quite sure the direction of your post. Other than of course the media questioning everything about Romney and asking if “X” is a liability.

    Does this mean you feel/think that this incident has been blown out of proportion by these media outlets?
    That what Romney has said regarding this issue is not that bad and that the media is just making a big deal out of a little thing?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. mantis says:

    @Tsar Nicholas:

    The president of the United States, whoever it is, has about 1000 times more control over foreign policy than he does over the economy. Romney’s actions should be of great concern to anyone who cares about the safety and security of the United States.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  17. stonetools says:

    It appears to me that the foreign policy elites in the USA are rapidly coming to the conclusion that Romney is far inferior to Obama on FP. Romney is not just inexperienced: he is incompetent.

    Now will it cost him what is an election about the economy?. It wouldn’t , if his economic message was working, but since it’s not working, its another reason to vote against him.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  18. al-Ameda says:

    Romney ripped the White House for a since-disavowed statement from the U.S. embassy in Egypt that came on the day that mobs attacked the American embassy in Cairo. The GOP nominee said the embassy’s statement was “akin to apology” and he called it “disgraceful to apologize for American values.”

    Wow. It’s one thing to have honest policy differences concerning Israel and Palestine, or how best to confront N. Korea or Iran, but this is just inept and inexcusable.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  19. I’ve changed my mind from my early morning pessimism. I think this will strike the average voter as beyond the pale. Everyone knows you close ranks in response to attack.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 24 Thumb down 1

  20. C. Clavin says:

    Disqualifying.
    Except in the eyes of people like Krautheimer and Palin.
    Also…Reince Prius makes Michael Steele look like a f’ing genius.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 25 Thumb down 0

  21. Latino_in_Boston says:

    Here’s the thing. The GOP has created an imaginary Obama that is “an affirmative action choice” who not only hates America, but is a muslim-marxist-kenyan-anticapitalist bumbler who cannot speak except with the aid of a teleprompter and who, naturally, apologizes for America at every turn. It’s possible that Romney has begun to believe his own propaganda (and that of the GOP) and thus because he actually believes he’s running against that fictitious Obama he’s doing everything he can to a) not appear like him and b) bring people’s attention to anything that will fit into this characterization. Hence he cannot admit he made a mistake (that would be too much like apologizing); he cannot have any kind of nuance when it comes to the muslim world (that would be too much like loving muslims); he cannot recognize that Obama has made good decisions, so he either attributes them to himself (Obama rescued GM because of him dontchaknow) or to others (the Navy Seals that killed Bin Laden); and he cannot weigh situations in foreign policy by considering all the options (that would be too much like an anti-colonialist). What we are seeing is a logical development from the campaign he has been running since 2008. His book was called: No Apology, for pete’s sake.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 40 Thumb down 1

  22. PJ says:

    @C. Clavin:

    Also…Reince Prius makes Michael Steele look like a f’ing genius.
    Agree, and I’m not foreign to the idea that Steele was elected chairman of the RNC so that there would be a prominent African American on the national political stage who acted like an idiot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  23. PJ says:

    @PJ:

    Blockquote fail, C. Clavin didn’t say this:

    Agree, and I’m not foreign to the idea that Steele was elected chairman of the RNC so that there would be a prominent African American on the national political stage who acted like an idiot.

    That was me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  24. anjin-san says:

    You simply don’t break national unity at a time like this. I have low expectations of Romney, but this is really stunning. Trying to scored political points off of the deaths of our diplomatic personnel – are you kidding?

    If I was Romney, I would be concerned that Hillary Clinton might show up and physically kick my ass.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 26 Thumb down 0

  25. :LaMont says:

    This just in;

    After it became painfully clear to Romney that his internal polls show Prseident Obama’s widening lead, Mitt Romney has gone ape shit crazy!!!

    I guess this is his definition of turning up the heat. Expect more of the same!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  26. stonetools says:

    @john personna:

    I’ve changed my mind from my early morning pessimism. I think this will strike the average voter as beyond the pale. Everyone knows you close ranks in response to attack.

    If you look at the right wing bloggers on Memeorandum, they are focusing on the Embassy “apology” to the exclusion of Romney’s statements. Its as if Romney’s response or the Obama Administration’s official statements didn’t happen.

    I’m afraid that what the Fox News watching, right wing blog reading voter will get from this will be that Obama apologized for America once again, this time to a bunch of murderous Muslims.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  27. J-Dub says:

    @Tsar Nicholas: That aside, it’s about the stupid, economy.

    Ok, let’s say it is about the economy. I happen to think President Obama wins on the economy as well. I’ve seen nothing from Romney to show otherwise. He claims to know economics because he was a businessman but he can’t even seem to add.

    Besides, was he even a businessman? He never put out a product. All he did was move money around and keep a shitload of it for himself and his friends. I refer to my previous comment, douche-bag.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  28. Latino_in_Boston says:

    @anjin-san:

    “If I was Romney, I would be concerned that Hillary Clinton might show up and physically kick my ass.”

    I would pay to see that!

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 0

  29. Rob in CT says:

    This is 2008 all over again, except in 2008 it was McCain and the economy.

    It didn’t become a really big deal, but McCain was also intemperate in his response to the Russia-Georgia kerfluffle (We’re all Georgians now or somesuch). Yeah, pick a fight with Russia because a hothead leader of a minor client state got suckered into a losing fight. Great idea. That’s a real winner.

    The GOP, unfortunately, has far too many people whose approach to foreign policy is shoot your mouth off first and ask questions later.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  30. Nikki says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    Either he believes that (in which case he is an utter f—ing moron) or he is so casually bankrupt that there’s not a thing he won’t say or do.

    C’mon…we all KNOW it’s the latter.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  31. CB says:

    @john personna:

    I keep thinking that as the day goes on, too. I still think it might be a bit too far out for this to be a real gamechanger, though. If this were 2 weeks before the election? He’d be toast.

    I just can’t believe he would give that statement. Ridiculously stupid.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  32. David M says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The guy flat out said that the President of the United States sympathized with a mob attacking an American embassy. Either he believes that (in which case he is an utter f—ing moron) or he is so casually bankrupt that there’s not a thing he won’t say or do.

    I’m not sure being an utter f—ing moron and casually bankrupt are is an either/or proposition for Romney.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  33. Facebones says:

    You guys are getting it all wrong! He’s not worrying about the LIE-bral media! The whole point of this is to get the headline out on Fox News that Barry Obama is once again apologizing for America. That is all the base will hear. That is all the Town Hall, Red State, and NRO readers want to see. This is purely a play to his base.

    (Now if Mitt is STILL having to secure his base after Labor Day, then he is going to be lucky to crack 200 EVs.)

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  34. Facebones says:

    The sad thing is, Mitt was CLEARLY the best candidate the republicans had to choose from this year by a wide margin.

    It almost makes me feel sorry for them.

    Almost.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  35. See, this what happens when you get rid of your most competent foreign policy advisor because the socons are afeared of the gay cooties.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  36. @Facebones:

    The sad thing is, Mitt was CLEARLY the best candidate the republicans had to choose from this year by a wide margin.

    Huntsman, Johnson, and Paul would all have been better candidates. Sadly, the reasons why they would have been better is precisely why they had no chance in the primaries.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  37. Ed, Watertown MA says:

    Romney should not be politicizing a foreign crisis while it is occurring. All he did was supply ammunition to the enemies of America by not backing the President. There is only one President at a time and there would have been loads of time for criticism in a few days but jumping into political attacks during the crisis just undermines American foreign policy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  38. Stephen1947 says:

    Doug says Rmoney’s morning grandstanding is “Based on a wholly incomplete version of the truth.” I kinda like this – a completely incomplete, totally empty of veracity version of the truth. There is not one iota, not one jot or tittle, not one shred of truth in the entire claim. Of course Doug could have just said “based on a lie,” but in this context that would be an understatement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  39. “Fredo, you’re my older brother, and I love you. But don’t ever take sides with anyone against the Family again. Ever.”

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 21 Thumb down 0

  40. DC Loser says:

    Obviously, Romney hates America.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  41. anjin-san says:

    Stormy wins the internets today…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. Romney camp tries to manage fallout from Libya response

    The campaign does not even understand what it did wrong. Beyond that:

    American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region do not spin out of control.

    Team America, F*ck Yeah.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  43. Stephen1947 says:

    I just tried posting something about how DailyKos is capitalizing on the “self-satisfied smirk” with which Rmoney delivered his ignorant attack this morning. Since it had links to 4 different Kos diaries that focused on that facial mannerism, it got caught in the spam filters – I hope someone can rescue it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  44. JKB says:

    his campaign issued a statement that tried to hold the Obama Administration responsible for a statement issued by the Cairo Embassy yesterday that was never approved by anyone in Washington according to all credible reports.

    If that is true then Hillary should be being frog marched out of the Foggy Bottom. The statement was the official response of the Obama administration as it came from the official channel. Obama, may disavow that statement but if the US embassy issued it, it was the official statement of the US government from the President’s direct representative in Egypt.

    If some third grader with an Ivy League degree is issuing uncleared official responses that represent the official US position though the official US account, then that says a lot about the amateur hour of this administration.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 32

  45. legion says:

    @Stormy Dragon: So, will Mitt find Rafalca’s head in his bed tonight?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  46. J-Dub says:

    Rmoney’s new nickname: “Unfit Mitt”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  47. @JKB:

    Two things. First, making statements and explaining American culture and values to other people is what ambassadors and embassies are for. This was especially true in old days (with slow boats to China), but it is still true with a consular staff educated on local issues. Second, religious tolerance is an American value and it should be explained in North Africa. We should explain how, while we disagree, while we don’t all have the same religion, we don’t kill each other either.

    Mr. Jones campaign to incite violence and the movie both fly in the face of religious tolerance, and are thus at odds with American values.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  48. David M says:

    @JKB:

    Are there any Romney talking points you won’t repeat?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  49. J-Dub says:

    Stealing this from the interweb….breaking news: “Mitt Romney just released 10 years of tax returns in an attempt to move the news cycle off his foreign policy statements”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  50. Anonne says:

    Highly disturbing, since foreign policy is the one area that is almost exclusively in the realm of the executive, with very few checks and balances. Romney keeps proving that he is unfit to be trusted with this responsibility, and doubles down on ignorance. This man should not be anywhere near high office.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  51. Rob in CT says:

    Rmoney’s morning grandstanding is “Based on a wholly incomplete version of the truth.”

    Reminds me of something…

    I was provided with additional input that was radically different from the truth. I assisted in furthering that version.

    Oliver North.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  52. JKB says:

    @David M:

    Talking points? It’s called reality. The US embassy is the United States’ direct representative in the host country. The ambassador speaks for the president. The embassy statements are reflections of the President’s policies. Nothing should be being released that has not been cleared by Washington, especially in these days of instant communications. If wild statements that do not reflect the President’s foreign policy are being released, then it is a demonstration of failed management in an area that can provoke a war. If the host country cannot count on what is said by the ambassador and embassy are essentially coming from the President then we have no diplomatic relations with that country. Just some random employees processing paperwork.

    If the statement was not a reflection of Obama’s policies, then the White House should have disavowed the statement/tweet immediately, shutdown the rogue access and recalled the ambassador for “consultation”.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 24

  53. @JKB:

    The ambassador speaks for the president. The embassy statements are reflections of the President’s policies. Nothing should be being released that has not been cleared by Washington, especially in these days of instant communications.

    Completely laughable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  54. Franklin says:

    Is JKB still talking about the embassy release that happened *before* the attack? Dude, get with the program.

    And regarding Doug’s statement:

    he [Romney] lacks any real experience in international relations

    Actually I believe he’s quite good at moving money around internationally, so long as it’s tax-free.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 0

  55. Aidan says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Grenell was on Twitter immediately after the news broke crowing about apologizing for America and sympathizing with the attackers. Romney certainly didn’t come to these conclusions by bucking his “most competent foreign policy advisor.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  56. @Aidan:

    Doh. Well, apparently “best Romney foreign policy advisor” is like “world’s tallest midget”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  57. Jeremy R. says:

    @JKB:

    The US embassy is the United States’ direct representative in the host country. The ambassador speaks for the president. The embassy statements are reflections of the President’s policies.

    If the statement was not a reflection of Obama’s policies, then the White House should have disavowed the statement/tweet immediately, shutdown the rogue access and recalled the ambassador for “consultation”.

    The U.S. ambassador to Egypt was in Washington. This was the local embassy staff, responding to Arab media calls asking them what role they played in the film and a building regional public firestorm, rapidly putting out a single paragraph statement rejecting & condemning the film to show they had no part in it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  58. David M says:

    @JKB:

    If the statement was not a reflection of Obama’s policies, then the White House should have disavowed the statement/tweet immediately,

    Did you really not bother to read any of the following that pointed out that’s exactly what happened?
    1) the original post by Doug M
    2) any credible news reports
    3) the other post(s) about this here at OTB

    It’s like talking to someone in an alternate universe where they can just make up any garbage they want and expect people to believe it. Unbelievable hackishness.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 11 Thumb down 0

  59. gVOR08 says:

    In answer to the title question, no, I don’t think foreign policy will cost Romney the election. I think that boat sailed during the RNC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  60. JKB says:

    @David M:

    Ten hours is not an immediate disavowal of statements that by their issuance under the embassy’s letterhead/twitter account, are official US responses.

    Your telling me in the time of live coverage that it took Obama 10 hours, and after the Secretary of State issued a tweet/statement saying essentially the same thing an hour and a half earlier is a timely disavowal?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 12

  61. Mary G says:

    @anjin-san: I would pay big money (well, for me anyway) to see Hilary Clinton kick Romney’s ass. It wouldn’t have to be physical. He could sit in a chair and let her yell at him for a couple of hours. They should do it as a fundraiser for the families of Ambassador Stevens and the other innocent victims of these attacks.

    Every time Governor Romney opens his mouth lately, I look for a few more bucks to send to Obama for America. I am 56 years old and I have never contributed to a presidential campaign in my life. I am not even a Democrat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  62. dennis says:

    Everyone has weighed in, so there’s no point in piling on. But I would like to highlight that the quick analyses by legion and Fiona say it all about Romney. My opinion? He’s done.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  63. LC says:

    @stonetools:

    Romney is not just inexperienced: he is incompetent.

    The more I listen to Romney on any subject, in any venue, the more I wonder how so dumb* and inarticulate a man could make so much money. Maybe there’s hope for the rest of us – at least if we start out with a hefty inheritance?

    *Yes, I know he got an MBA and JD from Harvard which does take some kind of smarts. But, really, if you didn’t know that and based your assessment of his intelligence on his performance these past months, what else could you conclude except that he is missing a neuron or two?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  64. dennis says:

    Okay, I can’t help myself.

    Did anyone catch Dan Senor on CNN this evening? One guy who has ZERO credibility after that Iraq debacle — and make no mistake; that’s EXACTLY what it was — has NO business criticizing foreign policy. These guys are so unself-aware that they refuse to reverse what is apparent to all, a dead-end, losing direction. These people are dangerous.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  65. JKB says:

    All of You Who Harshly Condemn Anti-Homosexuality Religious Beliefs, Take Note

    The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 8

  66. Tillman says:

    In Texas, what Romney’s campaign just did to itself could be considered sodomy.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  67. David M says:

    @LC:

    The more I listen to Romney on any subject, in any venue, the more I wonder how so dumb* and inarticulate a man could make so much money. Maybe there’s hope for the rest of us – at least if we start out with a hefty inheritance?

    Being the millionaire CEO of Bain Capital doesn’t really require the same skill set as running for political office, so I’m not sure Romney isn’t smart. Now admittedly, the game was rigged in favor of Bain Capital, so it was hard to lose, but I think Romney thinks his success there translates directly to politics.

    I see Romney as the direct continuation of George W Bush, not really knowledgeable about foreign policy, and surrounded by unwilling to disagree with him when he’s wrong. As we should all know, that’s a recipe for disaster.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  68. Santiago says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You owe me a keyboard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  69. dennis says:

    Holy Sh**!!!

    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/has-obama-called-bibis-bluff/

    When Patrick J. is making more sense than Mitt Romney, you know the gig is up!!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  70. xprophet says:

    Well
    Romney knows that Mexico is South and Canada is North. That is foreign policy is it not? His disgraceful comments show just how low politicians will stoop in their quest for power. Vaulting ambition o’er leaps itself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  71. xprophet says:

    @JKB: Dumb. Dumb dumb dumb duuumb!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  72. Robert in SF says:

    Governor Romney was asked a question in the press conference above about …”if you had known last night…”, and he interrupted to say that he basically wouldn’t discuss “theoretical” situations…but damn it, a presidential campaign is made up of theoreticals…

    “I *would have* done this had I been President….”
    “I will do this *if* I am elected….”

    Governor Romney did a poor job of handling any details on the substance of how he would approached this situation differently, falling back on to platitudes and jingoism (IMHO)…and his amateurism on the national stage for political office shows.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  73. anjin-san says:

    As Republican political pros distance themselves from Romney, JKB rushes in to fill the void…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  74. Vinny C. says:

    I believe the only adult that looked presidential was Mitt Romney….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  75. Montanareddog says:

    The statement issued last night was ill-advised and dumb, but at least the campaign had the excuse of not being aware of the facts behind the embassy statement.

    Doug, do you really think in this case that not being aware of the facts is an excuse? I rather think it doubles down on the supidity. A dumb statement, all the dumber, for being issued before the situation was clear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  76. Nikki says:

    @dennis: From the article:

    When Ronald Reagan was about to take the oath, suddenly those mullahs, assessing that the new American president might be a man of action, not just words, had all the U.S. hostages winging their way home.

    I get what Pat is trying to do here, but this line is pure bullshyte.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  77. al-Ameda says:

    @Vinny C.:

    I believe the only adult that looked presidential was Mitt Romney….

    and I believe that Phyllis Schlafly is an SI Swimsuit Model

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  78. anjin-san says:

    The statement issued last night was ill-advised and dumb, but at least the campaign had the excuse of not being aware of the facts behind the embassy statement.

    Yes, just as he did with the Chen Guangcheng crisis, Romney blundered in without understanding the situation. Let’s put him in charge of nukes!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  79. reid says:

    @Vinny C.: Granted, but too bad the things coming out of his mouth don’t sound very presidential.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  80. Mr. Replica says:

    Yup, nothing looks more presidential than using these deaths to lie about your opponent, only to be made to look like a fool and amateur in the process. Shooting from the hip before the facts come in, looking like a complete ass in the process.
    But, I guess when your political “reality” is based around blatant right-wing propaganda that even when facts come into the picture, you are so far gone mentally, black is white and up is down.

    I honestly can not tell if some of these comments coming from these wing-nuts consist of how they actually feel and think…or if they are just trolls looking for attention.

    While I have been on the fence for the past year regarding who I was going to vote for this November. Romney has convinced me that no matter who it is I push the button for, It will NOT be for him. The man is a stooge, and I will not reward his childish and down right pathetic behavior.

    If you want this sort of person to be your president, by all means vote for him. But, in no way shape or form does this man look, sound, or exude ANYTHING that would be considered presidential to a sane person.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  81. dennis says:

    @Nikki:

    Well, Nikki, a lot of what comes out of PJB’s mouth is boolshyt. Nevertheless, that’s EXACTLY what it looked like to this then-18-yr-old kid. Reagan got elected and the Iranians caved. You know; all those caricatures of Reagan riding the nuke ‘n stuff…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0