Mitt Romney's Comments on Embassy Attacks Backfire Badly

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Mitt Romney's attack on President Obama for the "disgraceful" decision to "sympathize" with the murderers -- and his decision to stick with the political attack in a press conference Wednesday -- "is likely to be seen as one of the most craven and ill-advised tactical moves in this entire campaign," Time's Mark Halperin says. The "campaign faces a near consensus in Republican foreign policy circles that, whatever the sentiment, Romney faltered badly," BuzzFeed's Ben Smith writes. "I've been inundated with emails and calls from elected GOP leaders who think Romney's response was a mistake. Not today," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough tweeted. Peggy Noonan said on Fox, "I don't feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors, say in the past few hours, perhaps since last night... Sometimes when really bad things happen, when hot things happen, cool words or no words is the way to go." Former George W. Bush pollster Matthew Dowd tweeted, "Romney react feels a lot like ready, fire, aim."

But if you watched Romney's press conference Wednesday in which he doubled down on his statement, the candidate seemed to think he was nailing it. After he finished responding to each question, he smiled, looking very satisfied. ("The statement that came from the administration was a statement which is akin to apology and i think was a severe miscalculation." Smile. "It’s also important for me just as it was for the white house last night by the way to say that the statements were inappropriate, and in my view a disgraceful statement on the part of our administration to apologize for american values." Smile.) Maybe that's because he knew the kids would love it. The kids being the base, as reflected by conservative bloggers loving Romney's response and calling the murder an act of war by the Libyan government. As he has through out much of his campaign, Romney is defying expectations that he would "tack to the center" after winning the GOP primary. On Wednesday, he played to the same crowd that was so outraged over the "Ground Zero mosque."

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"Somebody get some bandages and salve for Obama's press corps - Romney just delivered a thumping," Fox News' Todd Starnes tweeted. "Mitt Romney demonstrates Reaganesque commitment to American resolve in our might. Reagan speechwriter Peggy Noonan trashes Mitt. WTH?" Michelle Malkin said.'s John Nolte wrote, "If only the Obama campaign could find half the outrage they saved for Romney to level at the murderers." Dan Calabrese wrote for Cain TV -- as in Herman Cain -- "Obama 'strongly condemns' the attack. Let's hope he doesn't seriously think that's all he needs to do." The U.S. responded to the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis "as if there was nothing we could do to them. How did that work out?" And anti-Islam activist Pamela Geller, who can always be counted on to write something unsubtle, wrote:

I warned readers of Obama's pro-jihadist, anti-freedom foregin policy. I warned readers that Obama was helping to install a sharia government in Libya with jihadist ties. I warned readers countless times of the catastrophic consequences of Obama's foreign policy.

Obama has "condemned the attack."

Yesterday, on September 11, in another act of war in Egypt, Egyptians ripped down the American Flag at US embassy and raise black flag of jihad, State dept apologizes. Obama apologized. Yes, our State department apologized for the murderous outrage.

Those with a more conservative style in their commentary struggled to make the case for Romney. Even The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol, who says Romney was right, begins his post, "One can question the timing and tone of Mitt Romney’s statement last night. One can note he wasn't as fluent and clear as he might have been at his press conference this morning." Kristol concludes, "If Romney can prove both strong and thoughtful on foreign policy over the next few days, it could be an inflection point in the presidential campaign." But thoughtful doesn't seem to be the tone Romney is going for.

Romney's campaign is distributing talking points to its surrogates that show he's not backing down, CNN's Peter Hamby reports. "If pressed," the memo says, surrogates should say, "The Obama campaign is now attacking Governor Romney for being critical of the same statement the Administration itself disavowed. This is hypocritical." And what if that ask "Did Governor Romney 'jump the gun' last night in releasing his statement?"? Say, "No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.