Mitt Romney's botched Libya response: Could it cost him the election?

Almost everyone agrees: Romney flubbed his reaction to the anti-American violence in Egypt and Libya. Come November, will voters hold it against him?

Mitt Romney speaks at a campaign rally in Florida on Sept. 1: As rioters stormed U.S. embassies in the Mideast on Sept. 11, the Romney campaign said "it's disgraceful that the Obama administr
(Image credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

On Wednesday, President Obama jabbed Mitt Romney's strikingly rapid and political criticism of the White House's handling of violence at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Romney is prone to "shoot first and aim later," the president told CBS News. But mostly, the relatively restrained Obama "observed a cardinal rule of politics," says Reuters' Andy Sullivan: "Don't interfere when your opponent is committing political suicide." After Romney suggested late Tuesday and again early Wednesday that Obama had acted disgracefully by somehow sympathizing with and apologizing to the rioters, few Republicans followed their nominee's lead, and foreign policy experts in both parties were pretty unanimous that Romney's response was "hasty and off-key," says Ben Smith at BuzzFeed. One "very senior Republican foreign policy hand" went so far as to call Romney's reaction his "Lehman moment," referring to Sen. John McCain's perceived-as-erratic reaction to the financial meltdown in 2008. Could Romney's response cost him the election?

Buh-bye, Mitt: It was bad enough that Romney launched a despicable and dishonest late-night attack on Obama while riots were ongoing and Americans were in harm's way, says Joan Walsh at Salon. But doubling down on his mendacious slur the next morning and "making cheap political points out of the killings of four American public servants" — that's just not presidential. Let's have a debate on Obama's foreign policy, by all means. But all Romney is offering is "cruel opportunism." Decent Americans find that repulsive, and "that's why he'll never be president."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us