Tags: | crowley | libya | terror | romney | obama | cnn

CNN's Crowley: Romney 'Right' on Libya, He Just 'Picked Wrong Word'

Tuesday, 16 Oct 2012 11:08 PM

By David A. Patten

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A sharp debate exchange between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama over Libya ignited a firestorm on political blogs Tuesday night, after moderator Candy Crowley stepped into the fray to seemingly "correct" Romney on a key point.

U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered in Benghazi, Libya, on the anniversary of 9/11. Romney challenged Obama's assertion that he had labeled it an act of terrorism, rather than blaming a controversial anti-Muslim video, the day after the attacks.

Said Romney: “I think it’s interesting that the president just said … the day after the attack he went to the Rose Garden and said this was an attack of terror… I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

Crowley, a veteran CNN political correspondent and host of Sunday's "State of the Union" news show, then appeared to correct Romney.

“He did in fact sir.”

Obama: “Can you say that a little louder, Candy?”

Crowley: “He did call it an act of terror. It did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out, you’re correct about that.”

Speaking after the debate, Crowley said on CNN that Romney was correct “in the main” that the administration was slow to acknowledge the deadly assault was a coordinated terrorist attack.

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Said Crowley: “Right after that I did turn around and say, but you’re totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that that there was this riot outside the Benghazi consulate which there wasn’t. So he [Romney] was right in the main. I just think he picked the wrong word.”

Romney said he found it “more troubling” that the president flew off to attend political fund-raisers the day after the deadly attacks, saying the administration’s handling of the crisis “calls into question the president’s entire policy in the Middle East.”

Romney cited the military upheavals in Syria and Iran’s march toward development of nuclear armaments, saying: “This president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour, and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.”

Obama responded that the suggestion anyone in his administration would play politics on the issue “is offensive.”

The exchange over Benghazi is sure to focus more attention on what the administration knew, and when, regarding the Benghazi attack. The day after the deadly assault, the president stated in the Rose Garden: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”

Conservatives said that statement did not amount to an admission that the four deaths resulted from an act of terrorism.

Three days after the attacks, White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “This is not a case of protests directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive.”

Also, U.N. Ambassador Rice appeared on Fox News Sunday on September 16 and stated: “What sparked the recent violence was the airing on the Internet of a very hateful very offensive video that has offended many people around the world. Now, our strong view is that there is no excuse for violence. It is reprehensible and never justified. But in fact there have been those in various parts of the world who have reacted with violence.”

Matthew Sheffield of Newsbusters.org blasted Crowley for stepping in during the debate, saying she was trying to “save Obama from his administration's dreadful bungling of the Libya situation. She owes the American people an apology for inserting herself into the debate in such an inappropriate and embarrassing fashion.”

The Obama campaign may ultimately have mixed feelings about the exchange, considering that it is bound to elevate the public discussion of Benghazi in the days leading up to the third and final presidential debate on Oct. 22, which will focus on foreign policy.

Said Crowley after the debate: “It was just the natural thing to come out of me going actually you know he did call that an act of terror. When half the crowd claps for that and the other half claps for but they kept telling us this was caused by a tape.

“In the main, the thrust of what Governor Romney was saying, which is why I went back and said that … but I just think he picked the wrong way to go about talking about it,” she said.

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