Oft-mentioned GOP presidential contender Jeb Bush told Newsmax TV on Friday that the administration’s conflicting accounts of the tragic murders of four Americans in the Benghazi terrorist attack has “emboldened” America’s enemies and puts the United States “in a more perilous position.”
In an exclusive interview, the former Florida governor added that the Obama administration’s handling of the tragedy “has created a cloud that doesn’t serve us well.”
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Bush’s broadside is one more indication that Republicans have no intention of easing the growing pressure for President Obama to clarify what the administration knew and when it knew it, regarding the first deadly assault on a U.S. diplomat since 1979. Fox News reported Friday that special ops soldiers made at least three requests for permission to respond to the developing firefight, which were denied.
“He’s either misinformed or he is not being truthful,” Bush said.
The administration’s portrayed the incident as probably due to an offensive, anti-Muslim video rather than a coordinated terrorist attack, although President Obama’s nuanced remarks appeared designed to leave him wiggle room on whether terror was involved. Bush said the tragedy “has been made worse by the knowledge that we now have, that there were warnings.”
Said Bush: “The consulate had been attacked twice in the previous months, which was clearly known. And then there were pleas for extra security, which were ignored. And then when the evidence came -- which was immediate -- that this was a terrorist attack, the White House went in spin mode.”
Bush said that among those blamed by the administration for the growing controversy are Gov. Romney, the intelligence community, the objectionable video, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In the Oct. 16 presidential debate, Obama said: “I am ultimately responsible for what’s taking place there because these are my folks, and I’m the one who has to greet those coffins when they come home.”
But Bush indicated the administration’s mixed messaging makes America look weak.
“When the world sees us as uncertain and not surefooted, they act,” he said. “Our friends act by pulling away and nervously kind of not being assured that the United States is there to support them. And our enemies are emboldened.
“So the tragedy of this is that four people lost their lives; great public servants. And then, because of the politics of this, the Obama administration sent such a confusing signal out that they did themselves no good. And they’ve put the United States in a more perilous position,” he added.
See other exclusive excerpts from the Newsmax interview with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush:
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