In Washington, Republican foreign policy veterans called Romney's initial statement premature and rushed, with limited facts and an incomplete understanding of what was happening in Egypt and Libya. Romney's team also was unclear about the timeline of when the Obama administration weighed in.I've actually never seen this strong a criticism from AP in one of their fact checks. This is one of those times where even the media - which sometimes tries so hard to be objective that they're afraid to call a lie a lie - calls a lie a lie.
One Republican official advising Romney's campaign on foreign policy and national security issues painted a picture of a Romney campaign more focused on ensuring Romney's evening statement made it into morning news stories than on waiting for details about what had happened.
This official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid angering Romney's campaign, said that as word of violence spread, campaign aides late Tuesday watched tweets coming out of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that were criticizing the filmmaker rather than condemning the attackers, and saw an opportunity to criticize Obama.
For example, AP points out that Romney lied when he claimed that the US embassy issued their statement after the attacks - it was hours before, that's why the statement didn't condemn the violence. There hadn't been any violence yet.
A damning fact check from AP:
The gunfire at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had barely ceased when Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney seriously mischaracterized what had happened in a statement accusing President Barack Obama of "disgraceful" handling of violence there and at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo.Oh my God. AP walks you through what happened in a timeline, moment by moment - and it's devastating. Romney got everything wrong, but boy was he willing to jump and be the first one heard on the issue, even as the crisis was unfolding and no one knew what was happening. Read this entire piece by AP. It's long, detailed and devastating.
"The Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks," Romney said in a statement first emailed to reporters at 10:09 p.m. Eastern time, under the condition it not be published until midnight.
In fact, neither a statement by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo earlier in the day nor a later statement from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered sympathy for attackers. The statement from the Cairo Embassy had condemned anti-Muslim religious incitement before the embassy walls were breached. In her statement, issued minutes before Romney's, Clinton had offered the administration's first response to the violence in Libya, explicitly condemning the attack there and confirming the death of a State Department official.