Pundits, politicos and Republican Party stalwarts alike have panned a mid-morning press conference by Republican presidential candidate former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA). Romney’s campaign drew fire overnight for falsely attributing a quote by Egyptian embassy personnel under siege to the Obama administration, then attacking the presidency for “apologizing for our values,” thereby seizing upon the violence in Egypt and Libya to score political points against President Barack Obama.
Rather than use today’s press conference as an opportunity to clear the air and mourn the deaths of U.S. citizens who gave their lives in service to their country, however, the former governor doubled down on his attacks against the president, a maneuver that was criticized even on the right.
Former foreign policy adviser to Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), Victoria Coates told BuzzFeed, “It’s deeply unfortunate when the circumstance of the statement becomes the story.”
Members of the press were struck by the move, as well. Time magazine’s Mark Halperin said on Twitter that Romney’s attacks were the most “craven + ill-advised move” of the 2012 campaign.
Wall Street Journal columnist and doyenne of DC politics Peggy Noonan opined to Fox News that the nominee isn’t “doing himself any favors” with his handling of the situation.
“When you step forward in the midst of a political environment and start giving statements on something dramatic and violent that has happened, you’re always leaving yourself open to accusations that you are trying to exploit things politically,” she said.
Associated Press photographer Charles Dharapak tweeted a photo that quickly became the subject of the Internet meme “Smirking Mitt,” with retweeted commentary like, “People at Ambassador Stevens’ funeral are going to see this photo.”
At the Maddowblog, Steve Benen wrote, “It’s a familiar pattern: Romney says something classless and untrue; he gets called out for his mendacity; then he repeats the falsehood under the cynical assumption that voters are easily fooled and there will be no consequences. This time, however, the GOP candidate is trying the strategy while trying to exploit deadly violence against Americans abroad.”
“Questions about whether Romney is fit for the nation’s highest office will only get louder in light of this debacle.”
Watch video of Romney’s press conference, embedded via MSNBC, below: