Romney slams Obama reaction to Egypt, Libya violence
WASHINGTON - Agance France-Presse
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney. AFP PhotoMitt Romney today hit out at the Obama administration's "disgraceful" response to violent protests in Egypt and Libya, accusing it of sympathizing with the Islamist demonstrators.
"I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement.
"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." The Obama campaign quickly fired back, with spokesman Ben LaBolt accusing Romney of launching a "political attack" on a day of tragedy.
"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," he said.
The US official was killed when an armed mob attacked the consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi hours after demonstrators scaled the walls of the US embassy in Cairo and tore down the US flag.
The demonstrations, which erupted on the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, were motivated by outrage over an amateur American-made video insulting Islam that was posted on the Internet.
Romney appeared to be referring to a statement from the US embassy in Cairo -- issued hours before the protest -- in which it condemned "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." After the violence broke out, and after the US official was reported killed in Libya, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton insisted there was no excuse for the violence.
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said in her statement.
"The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others... But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind." Romney and US President Barack Obama have stepped up attacks on one another since their party conventions last week and the week before, as the campaign enters a crucial final phase leading up to the November 6 vote.
Throughout the campaign, Romney has largely ceded the foreign policy debate to Obama, preferring to focus on the struggling US economy, where the president is seen as much weaker.
But the protests in Egypt and Libya appeared to provide an opening for Romney to renew an older line of attack in which he accused Obama of apologizing to the world for America's foreign policy.