Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio defended GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney this morning on “This Week” for his use of the deadly incident in Libya to criticize President Obama on the campaign trail. I asked Portman about this after the father of killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens told Bloomberg it would be “abhorrent” to make his son’s death a campaign issue.
“He didn’t say it was a campaign issue. He said it was an issue. I mean, it’s something the American people are really concerned about, Jake. And, look, you’ve been on top of this. I’ve seen some of the tough questions you’ve been asking the White House on it,” Portman said. “Folks want to know two things. Why wasn’t the security there? And why did the administration try so hard to create, you know, the wrong image as to what happened?”
“They went out of their way to try to leave the impression this was because of some video. It wasn’t,” he said. “It was a premeditated terrorist attack that terrible night in Benghazi, that tragic occurrence where we lost the ambassador and three other brave Americans, needs to be explained to the American people. And I think folks deserve an explanation.”
Both Romney and Paul Ryan have questioned the administration’s handling of the attack in Libya since it occurred.
Portman also pushed back against the suggestion that Romney has a muddled China policy. While the former Massachusetts governor has talked tough on China, he has been criticized for profiting from Bain Capital’s investments in Chinese companies and in companies that are currently offshoring U.S. jobs to China.
“I don’t think there’s any disconnect at all. First of all, all his stuff’s in a blind trust. Second, I think a lot of Americans are invested in something that has international investments, including, I’m sure, President Obama and his pension and other things,” Portman said.
“So that’s not the issue. The issue is, what are we going to do about trade? One, we need to open more markets. And as you know, I’m the former U.S. trade rep, and I think it’s unbelievable that the United States has sat on the sidelines for the past four years, hasn’t negotiated a single trade opening agreement,” Portman added. “While the rest of the world continues to negotiate them — there have been 40 or 50 of them negotiated — taking away our market share from our workers, our farmers, our service providers — and at the same time, we haven’t been tough enough on some countries that haven’t been playing by the rules, and one is China.”
Sensata Technologies, which is owned by Bain Capital, recently garnered attention for outsourcing jobs to China.