ABC News’ Jake Tapper Reports: Wednesday in Michigan, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney sought to clarify his remarks from Tuesday’s CNBC debate where he said he’d seek lawyers’ advice before taking any military action — and he attacked former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who had criticized his remarks, as overly litigious.
Asked during Tuesday’s debate if he would obtain congressional authorization before taking any military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Romney said, "You sit down with your attorneys and they tell you what you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what’s in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat."
Those remarks have been painted as weak and clueless by Giuliani’s campaign. "Lawyers should not debate while our national security is on the line," said Admiral Robert J. Natter, former Commander-in-Chief of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet and an adviser to Giuliani in a paper statement. "In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation."
”That’s a phony issue,” Romney told reporters. "I’d make a decision based on the safety of the American people. But of course we’d also check to make sure what our legal and constitutional responsibilities are, that’s why we swear an oath of office."
"But if there’s anybody with a propensity to go to lawsuits . . . it’s the mayor," Romney continued. "The Mayor’s the one who sued Governor Pataki to keep the commuter tax in place. It’s the mayor who sued the government of the United States over the line item veto. The mayor’s the one who shows the propensity to want to put in place a legal tax. . . . He’s been the one suing. Suing on the line item veto, suing on the commuter tax. . . . I think he also brought a suit to try and keep the federal welfare law from applying to the city of New York."
Summed up Romney: "he gets first place when it comes to suing and lawyering."
In response, Giuliani campaign communications director Katie Levinson, issued a statement saying, "hopefully, Mitt Romney isn’t going to check with the same group of lawyers who told him the Bill Clinton line item veto was constitutional.”