CNN journalist Candy Crowley, the second presidential debate moderator, had to fact-check Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Tuesday, when he tried to make a case that the Obama administration allegedly hid the fact that the Sept. 11 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, was an act of terrorism.
The Benghazi incident claimed the lives of four Americans, which included Ambassador Chris Stevens.
"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," Obama said the day after the attack. "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."
Romney sought to use the incident as a way to bash President Barack Obama on his Middle East foreign policy. He also said the Obama administration was covering up terrorism and that it took more than a week to label the Benghazi assault as terrorism.
Obama said he did call the incident an act of terrorism in his Rose Garden address following the killings. (See video here and fast forward to 4:18). Others in the administration also had said that the Benghazi incident appeared to have been an escalation of a spontaneous protest against an anti-Islam video created in the U.S. However, the administration backed away from the later explanation as it garnered more information.
Romney said it wasn’t true Obama immediately labeled the incident as a terroristic act. Here's the interchange, before Crowley cleared things up:
Romney: I think it’s interesting the president just said something, which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
Obama: That's what I said.
Romney: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you're saying?
Obama: Please proceed, governor.
Romney: 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.
Obama: Get the transcript.
Crowley: 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 there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
The Obama administration has said Romney was politicizing the death of the Americans ahead of the Nov. 6 general election. Stevens’ father, Jan, has also asked that both presidential candidates refrain from using his son’s death as a political campaign talking point.
“The security matters are being adequately investigated,” Stevens told Bloomberg News. “We don’t pretend to be experts in security. It has to be objectively examined. That’s where it belongs. It does not belong in the campaign arena.”
An investigation is currently under way to determine exactly what happened that day and whether there were any security-related lapses.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has since taken full responsibility for the attack on the consulate, but Obama said he employs her.
“Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job,” Obama said. “But she works for me. I'm the president and I'm always responsible, and that's why nobody's more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.”
Romney Offended Him
Obama also said he didn't like the way Romney tried to politicize the attack.
“The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened,” he said. “That this was an act of terror and I also said that we're going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
“And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
“And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we've lost four of our own, governor, is offensive.,” Obama added. “That's not what we do. That's not what I do as president, that's not what I do as Commander in Chief.”
Laura is a U.S. politics reporter for the International Business Times. She was always fascinated by the BBC World News each morning on the radio in Jamaica. That, and a love...