Will Romney’s foreign policy blunder doom his campaign?
Mitt Romney’s eagerness to exploit the tragedy in the Middle East for political gain even has more than a few Republicans upset with him.
Ben Smith of Buzz Feed puts it this way: “’Bungle… utter disaster…not ready for prime time… not presidential… Lehman moment.’ And that’s just the Republicans.”
Molly Ball of The Atlantic WONDERS if Mitt’s ill-advised rhetoric will eventually be seen as his political Waterloo:
Will Mitt Romney look back on this day as the blunder that doomed his campaign?
It’s too soon to tell, of course. But the reaction to his recent foreign-policy moves has been overwhelmingly negative, from Republicans and Democrats alike, to the point that some wonder whether it could begin to disqualify him in voters’ minds.
Romney’s response to the incidents of the last 24 hours — the storming of the American embassy in Cairo and the killing of the American ambassador and three others in Libya — is widely being regarded as hasty and ham-handed. From his initial statement late Tuesday, which accused the Obama Administration of “sympathiz[ing] with those who waged the attacks,” to his Wednesday morning press conference reinforcing that criticism, Romney, critics say, appeared overly eager to turn the tragedy into a political wedge, and insufficiently respectful of the gravity of the situation…
[H]is comments struck a sour note in light of the fact that the Egyptian embassy’s statement condemning those who would attempt “to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims” had long since been disavowed by the administration…
The pundits’ judgment was harsh. Time‘s Mark Halperin said Romney’s “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.” A senior Republican told BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith it was Romney’s “Lehman moment,” a reference to John McCain’s hasty reaction to the 2008 financial crisis — a turning point in the last presidential campaign. Conservative pundit Matt Lewis wrote in the Daily Caller, “The problem with Mitt Romney continues to be Mitt Romney,” comparing his reaction to the way Michael Dukakis was parodied as “weak and passionless” on “Saturday Night Live.” On Fox News, conservative commentator and Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan said, “In times of great drama and heightened crisis … I always think discretion is the better way to go,” saying Romney was leaving himself open to accusations of politicizing a tragedy. “I don’t feel that Mr. Romney has been doing himself any favors in the past few hours,” she said. Though Romney had his defenders as well, the gelling consensus was clearly against him.
UPDATE: And then there’s THIS:
Former Ambassador R. Nicholas Burns, who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, said he was “disappointed” in Mitt Romney’s reaction to the violence in Egypt and Libya, which resulted in the deaths of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three embassy staffers.
“I was, frankly, very disappointed and dismayed to see Gov. Romney inject politics into this very difficult situation where our embassies are under attack, where there’s been a big misunderstanding in the Middle East, apparently, about an American film, where we’re trying to preserve the lives of our diplomats,” Burns said on MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports this afternoon. “This is no time for politics.”
Burns added: “I just think that Gov. Romney has, in a very unwise way, injected himself into a situation where he clearly doesn’t have all the facts.”
UPDATE II: Tom Ridge, who served as Homeland Security director under President Bush, is DISTANCING HIMSELF from Romney’s reckless rhetoric regarding this current controversy.