What Are Romney Surrogates Complaining About?
The media and blogosphere are predictably — and justifiably — abuzz about Candy Crowley pointing out that Romney was wrong when he claimed it took Obama two weeks to label the Benghazi attack an “act of terror.” More interesting, though, is the push-back from Romney surrogates like Ed Gillespie, who said afterward that “[s]he was wrong about it, no doubt… I’ll let the American people judge for themselves in terms of the moderator and that kind of thing.” Fortunately, it’s not difficult to judge for ourselves who was right, because we have the relevant transcripts. First, the debate tonight (my emphasis)
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president. And I’m always responsible. And that’s why nobody is more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I did (sic).
The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror…
MR. ROMNEY: Yeah, I — I certainly do. I certainly do. I — I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror. You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration.
MR. ROMNEY: I — I — 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.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Get the transcript.
MS. CROWLEY: It — he did in fact, sir.
So let me — let me call it an act of terrorism — (inaudible) —
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Laughter, applause.)
MS. CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror.
And now what Obama said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack (emphasis added):
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. Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.
Unless one is functionally illiterate, this is a clear statement by President Obama that the Benghazi attack was an act of terror. Thus: Crowley right; Romney surrogates wrong. Point, set, match.
I’m no big fan of Obama’s reaction to the Libya attack. But claiming that he didn’t label it an act of terror the day after the attack is just foolish.
PS. This article is typical of right-wing dishonesty about tonight’s exchange. It claims that, with regard to the Rose Garden speech, “the legal term of ‘act of terrorism’ is never used.” No, it wasn’t. But Obama didn’t claim that he described the attack as an “act of terrorism,” nor did Romney claim that Obama didn’t call it an “act of terrorism.” Both — and Crowley — referred to an “act of terror.”
PPS. Josh Rogin reminds us at FP.com that Obama also referred to the Benghazi attack as an “act of terror” the day after the Rose Garden speech, in Colorado:
“So what I want all of you to know is that we are going to bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice. I want people around the world to hear me: To all those who would do us harm, no act of terror will go unpunished. It will not dim the light of the values that we proudly present to the rest of the world. No act of violence shakes the resolve of the United States of America.
So much for the ridiculous claim that Obama was referring to 9/11, not Benghazi, during the Rose Garden speech…