Romney Thwacks Obama For Calling Libya And Other Hot Spots 'Bumps'
It's taken as a given that American voters in 2012 aren't as concerned about foreign policy as they are the domestic economy.
It's also accepted as true that on matters of foreign policy, President Obama has an advantage over his Republican challenger, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who lacks significant firsthand foreign policy experience.
But Romney has made it a point lately to show that he's not ceding foreign policy and national security to Obama.
The latest example came Monday when Romney went after Obama for a turn of phrase the president used in his 60 Minutes interview. During the interview, Obama described as "bumps in the road" the unrest in the Arab world in the aftermath of the Arab Spring that removed strongmen from power.
During interviews and on the stump, Romney said Obama's use of the idiom demonstrated the president didn't understand the magnitude of the developments in North Africa and the Middle East.
Romney criticized the president from the stump as he campaigned in Pueblo, Colo., on Monday. In an interview with NBC News' Peter Alexander, Romney said:
"The president characterized as bumps in the road — the developments of the Middle East, we just had an ambassador assassinated. Egypt has elected a Muslim Brotherhood or person as president. Iran is on the cusp of having nuclear capability. We have Tumult in Syria and also Pakistan and I don't consider these bumps in the road. ..."
Alexander followed up by asking Romney if he really believed the president was minimizing the deaths of the four Americans in Benghazi.
ALEXANDER: "Governor, in your heart of hearts do you genuinely believe that President Obama, when he referred to bumps in the road and was not deeply — perhaps a better way to put it, is do you genuinely believe in your heart of hearts that President Obama wasn't deeply saddened by the loss of four American lives in Libya — that he was speaking more widely about policy in that region not about the loss of lives that took place there at the consulate and embassy."
ROMNEY: "When the president was speaking about bumps in the road he was talking about the developments in the Middle East and that includes an assassination, it includes a Muslim Brotherhood individual becoming president of Egypt, it includes Syria being in tumult, it includes Iran being on the cusp of having nuclear capability, it includes Pakistan being in commotion. There are extraordinary events going on in the Middle East and considering those events either one of them or all of them collectively as bumps in the road shows a person who has a very different perspective about world affairs and the perspective I have."
Romney is clearly sharpening his attacks as he readies for the presidential debates next month; one of the three meetings between the two candidates will focus entirely on foreign policy and national security.
But even as Romney pounced on the president for his choice of words about issues occurring on the other side of the globe, the Obama campaign sought to remind voters of Romney's comments at a Boca Raton, Fla., fundraiser about the "47 percent."
It so happens that at that fundraiser, Romney also said he would "work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity" if a foreign crisis presented itself before the election.
An Obama campaign spokeswoman, Lis Smith, said in a statement:
"Today, we saw what Mitt Romney meant when he told a closed door group of high-dollar donors that he would 'take advantage of the opportunity' to politicize an international crisis to help his campaign. He's purposely misinterpreting the President's words and making reckless statements about the death of four Americans in Libya, apparently for the sole purpose of his own political gain. Using this incident to launch political attacks should be beneath someone seeking to be our nation's Commander-in-Chief."
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.