Who Advises Romney on Foreign Policy? Bolton, Senor… Neoconservatives - Shush Walshe and Chris Good report that Dan Senor left the Ryan campaign trail to deal with these foreign policy developments. They report that Romney has long sought to distinguish himself from the president by drawing a contrast between weakness and strength, and his posture is reflected in the team he's chosen, peppered with luminaries from the Bush administration. http://abcn.ws/ScPGNO
What's an Apology? - Here's a bit of a political rhorsach test for the day. Is this 9/11 statement, issued before the embassy in Cairo was breached, an apology for American values?
"The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."
Mitt Romney thinks so. And all of his perceived problems follow - ascribing that statement to President Obama, attacking him over it on September 11th, doing so before all the facts from the situation in Libya were known, and forcefully defending all of these decisions on Wednesday stem from that assessment.
Romney's confrontation with foreign policy in this case is not unlike John McCain's confrontation with economic policy and the Wall Street bailouts in 2008. In both cases, the candidate is thrust off-balance by developments - mirror image - not in their milieu.
How would McCain have handled this in 2008?
Today he was on the Senate floor with Lindsay Graham and Joe Liberman talking about the not sure what other word you should use but dead seems a little insensitive state department employees and urging Americans not to lose faith in Middle East Democratic movements.
Stay Tuned for Jon Karl's interview with McCain
Obama, Now Okay with Being Political on This, Says to CBS - "It appears that Governor Romney didn't have his facts right ." - http://abcn.ws/PjyAxq
On the Cairo Embassy Statement - "It didn't come from me. It didn't come from Secretary Clinton. It came from folks on the ground, who are- potentially in danger. And, you know, my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack- when they're in that circumstance- rather than try to- question their judgment- from the comfort of a campaign office."
On Mitt Romney - "There's a broader lesson to be learned here. And I think- you know, Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to- shoot first, name later. And as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. That- you know, it's important for you to- make sure that the statements that- that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em."
Ultimately, the details of when the U.S. Embassy made its first statement and to whom it was directed and whether it was before or after the walls were breached and how it interplays with tweets… all of those facts are somewhat beside the point. Although you can follow all of the developments - http://bit.ly/QSg7YP
Jake Tapper's report from this morning is another good round-up - http://abcn.ws/PbbHOl
And you can expect a more robust foreign policy debate, including focus on Obama's record in the Middle East, in the days to come.
(Emily Friedman reports, by the way, that Romney is not currently getting official security briefings.)
What does the situation in Libya, involving fundamentalists there and sparked it seems by a fringe c-rate movie linked to fundamentalists here, say about what kind of statesman Mitt Romney would be?
First, he was quick to respond. Perhaps too quick.
"I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something in violation of our principles," Romney said today.
And he drew a bright line about the attack on the embassy, regardless of who was responsible, which he termed a "breach of the sovereignty of our nation."
"I think it's a terrible course for America to stand in apology for our values, that instead when our grounds are being attacked and being breached, that the first response of the United States must be outrage at the breach of the sovereignty of our nation. An apology for America's values is never the right course," he said at an event that was quickly transformed from a campaign rally to a news conference today.
None of this should be a shock. Michael Falcone notes that there was similar language in the Tuesday night statement he released. That statement has been criticized for politicizing the tragedy before all the facts were known.
Falcone: "In fact, he uses a variation of it almost everywhere he travels - there are countless examples. And it's all traceable back to the book Romney published in March 2010: "No Apology: The Case For American Greatness."
Romney's book: "Never before in American history has its president gone before so many foreign audiences to apologize for so many American misdeeds, both real and imagined," Romney writes in the book. "There are anti-American fires burning all across the globe; President Obama's words are like kindling to them."
More from Falcone - http://abcn.ws/Pj7CWQ
His mid-summer foreign trip was another foreign policy appetizer in which the candidate banged through three countries, offending some with his opinions on British security and his thoughts on Palestinian work ethic.
Paul Ryan Dubs Romney's Foreign Policy, essentially, the "Peace Through Strength Doctrine" - http://abcn.ws/RJsXhh
Romney Can't Imagine Saying No to Meeting Netanyahu - Mitt Romney said today that he couldn't "imagine saying no" to a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu. http://abcn.ws/PbRgko (Emily Friedman)
Slain Diplomat Chris Stevens Slipped Into Libya on a Cargo Ship During Revolution-During the early days of the Libyans' fight to overthrow Moammar Gadhafi, Christopher Stevens wrangled a ride on a Greek cargo ship and sailed into the rebels' stronghold city of Benghazi. He arrived at a time when the crackle of gunfire could be heard each night. http://abcn.ws/QKe8va (Amy Bingham)
Obama Vows Justice for Slain Diplomats-President Obama today strongly condemned a deadly overnight attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, calling the murder of four Americans there an "outrageous and shocking" act and vowing to "bring to justice the killers." http://abcn.ws/Qd4pLW (Devin Dwyer)
Obama Ad Misleads on AARP Position on Romney-The Obama campaign has released their third new TV ad in 24 hours, a 30-second spot invoking the AARP Voter Guide to discredit the Romney-Ryan Medicare plan. http://abcn.ws/OGI1Yl (Devin Dwyer)
Paul Ryan Releases First TV Ad for His House Seat-Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, a seven-term congressman from Wisconsin, released his first television advertisement of the 2012 election cycle, as he goes for two jobs at once: Ryan's seeking re-election to his House seat as he campaigns with Mitt Romney for the White House. http://abcn.ws/QJGDJk (John Parkinson)
Obama Resurfaces in Favorability, Re-opening the Popularity Gap-Barack Obama crossed into majority favorability among registered voters for the first time since spring in a new ABC News/Washington Post poll, further evidence of a convention boost. Mitt Romney trails in popularity, albeit with a number near his own high. http://abcn.ws/NnLwpn (Gary Langer)
Obama Ad Says Romney Tax Plan Dodges Details-The Obama campaign is doubling down on the argument that Mitt Romney's budget plan doesn't add up (or, as former President Bill Clinton tells it, doesn't pass the "arithmetic test"), meaning higher taxes on middle class and/or exploding deficits. http://abcn.ws/QPftLy (Devin Dwyer)