Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, said President Barack Obama’s administration set a “terrible course” when the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement appearing to sympathize with Egyptian protesters before the death of an American ambassador in Libya.
“It’s a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values,” Romney said at a press conference Wednesday in Jacksonville, Fla. “Instead when our grounds are being attacked and breached, the first response of us must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation.”
Romney’s remarks follow the confirmation that the U.S. ambassador to Libya and three others were killed in an attack on the consulate in Benghazi amid protests in the north African country and neighboring Egypt over a film about the Prophet Muhammad viewed as blasphemous by Muslims.
Romney, who said he mourned the loss of American life and was praying for their families, echoed a statement released by his campaign late last night, which accused the Obama administration of initially siding with the protesters, based on the Cairo embassy statement issued before the violence erupted. The statement, intended to ease tensions, condemned the movie’s anti-Muslim messaged. “Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy,” it said.
“The embassy is the administration,” Romney said. “The statement that came from the administration was a statement that was akin to apology,” he said.
Demonstrators attacked U.S. diplomatic missions in Cairo and the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi to protest a film made in the U.S. by a California real estate developer that they called offensive to Muslims. An armed mob in Benghazi stormed the U.S. diplomatic office there and set fire to the building, the Associated Press reported, citing witnesses.
In Cairo, Egypt’s capital, Islamist demonstrators scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy, ripped down a U.S. flag and chanted: “Obama, we are here to sacrifice for Osama.”
Ben LaBolt , a spokesman for Obama’s re-election campaign, criticized Romney’s statement from last night.
“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.” LaBolt said early today in an e-mailed statement.
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