Launching a new line of attack on Thursday, a top foreign policy adviser to the Romney presidential campaign claimed that President Barack Obama is an “amateur” at foreign relations and blamed the president for the assassination of the former U.S. ambassador to Libya.
“There’s a pretty compelling story that if you had a President Romney, you’d be in a different situation,” Richard Williamson, a former U.S. ambassador who advises Republican presidential candidate, said during an interview published The Washignton Post. “For the first time since Jimmy Carter, we’ve had an American ambassador assassinated.”
“The president can’t even keep track of who’s our ally or not,” he added. “This is amateur hour — it’s amateur hour.”
The “amateur” remark is a reference to Obama saying Wednesday that the new government in Egypt is not an ally of the U.S., “but we don’t consider them an enemy.” The White House later clarified Obama’s statement by explaining that the term “ally” is “a legal term of art,” calling Egypt a “partner.” State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland, however, later confirmed that Egypt is technically considered a “major non-NATO ally.”
Obama has in recent days faced persistent barbs from the former Massachusetts governor over the recent terrorist attack on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which killed four Americans, including ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and two former Navy SEALS. It has not been without cost to him politically, however.
As militants in Libya’s capital were launching rocket propelled grenades at Americans on Tuesday night, Romney’s campaign issued a statement before knowing the full series of events. The half-baked attack wrongly attributed a statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo to the White House, saying that Obama apologized for American values and sympathized with the terrorists. The president has repeatedly said that America “will never apologize for our way of life.”
The embassy’s statement did not offer an apology. It instead asserted that religious tolerance is an American value, and condemned an anti-Islamic film that’s sparked outrage and riots across the Middle East for purposefully trying to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.
The crucial error didn’t seem to phase Romney, however: Amid fierce criticism even from members of his own party and heckles at campaign events, he doubled down on Wednesday and insisted that the president and U.S. embassy personnel apologized for American values and sympathized with terrorists. The very next day, Williamson appeared on CNN and described an erroneous timeline of events that led up to the Cairo embassy’s statement, insisting that Romney’s statement forced the White House to take notice.
Williamson’s comments Thursday to the Post seem to only confirm that the Romney campaign is tripling down on efforts to use the ambassador’s death as a political mallet against the president.
“The world needs American leadership,” Rommey said at a campaign event Thursday. “The Middle East needs American leadership and I intend to be a president that provides the leadership that America respects and will keep us admired throughout the world.”