This is when Romney thought he had the debate in hand:
OBAMA: Secretary Clinton has done an extraordinary job. But she works for me. I’m the president and I’m always responsible, and that’s why nobody’s more interested in finding out exactly what happened than I do.
The day after the attack, governor, I stood in the Rose Garden and I told the American people in the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened. That this was an act of terror and I also said that we’re going to hunt down those who committed this crime.
And then a few days later, I was there greeting the caskets coming into Andrews Air Force Base and grieving with the families.
And the suggestion that anybody in my team, whether the Secretary of State, our U.N. Ambassador, anybody on my team would play politics or mislead when we’ve lost four of our own, governor, is offensive. That’s not what we do. That’s not what I do as president, that’s not what I do as Commander in Chief.
Romney, walked right into a trap he built for himself:
CROWLEY: Governor, if you want to…
ROMNEY: Yes, I — I…
CROWLEY: … quickly to this please.
ROMNEY: I — I think interesting the president just said something which — which is that on the day after the attack he went into the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.
OBAMA: That’s what I said.
ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack, it was an act of terror.
It was not a spontaneous demonstration, is that what you’re saying?
OBAMA: Please proceed governor.
ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
OBAMA: Get the transcript.
CROWLEY: It — it — it — he did in fact, sir. So let me — let me call it an act of terror…
OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder, Candy?
CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.
ROMNEY: This — the administration — the administration indicated this was a reaction to a video and was a spontaneous reaction.
CROWLEY: It did.
ROMNEY: It took them a long time to say this was a terrorist act by a terrorist group. And to suggest — am I incorrect in that regard, on Sunday, the — your secretary —
Romney’s response was a product of his party’s own cultivation of warped perceptions, not the truth. Let me explain: while President Obama was busy dealing with the September 11th 2012 attacks on US Embassies Romney was busy turning Libya into political point scoring opportunity to appease his base. This strategy was made evident in the less popular parts of the 47% tape:
Questioner: I think it had to do with the fact that the Iranians perceived Reagan… That’s why I’m suggesting that something that you say over the next few months gets the Iranians to understand that their pursuit of the bomb is something that you would prevent. And I think that’s something that could possibly resonate very well with the American public.
Romney: I appreciate the idea. One of the things that’s frustrating to me is that in a typical day like this, when I do three or four events like this, the number of foreign policy questions I get are between zero and one. And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq. This President’s failure to put in place a status of forces agreement allowing ten to twenty thousand troops to stay in Iraq- unthinkable! And yet, in that election, in the Jimmy Carter election, the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean, that was all we talked about. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, I mean, that was the focus, and so him solving that made all the difference in the world. I’m afraid today that if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down on nuclear weapons, they’d go, “Now hold on. It’s really a-” I mean, if something of that nature presents itself I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.
Instead of actually paying attention to what the president said the day after the attack on September 12th in the Rose Garden during his Presidential Address and at a campaign stop September 13th the next day he was using his own campaigns lazy opposition research, Fox News, the manufactured outrage of politicians like Darrell Issa (who voted for funding for cuts to State Department security funding) and Drudge and Limbaugh pumped theories as primary sources about the President’s response to Libya. The right will forever hate Candy Crowley because she dared pipe up with the truth that contradicted Romney’s foolish attack. They should harbor resentment Mitt Romney for not being careful enough.
Note: I appreciate Martha Raddatz and Candy Crowley ignoring these inane rules negotiated by the campaigns. Not that I consider Jim Lehrer a bad a calamity like everyone else, but the point of a debate is to get the candidates answering questions, making assertions and challenging each other. Raddatz and Crowley got a lot of it from the Vice Presidential and Presidential candidates.