Obama: Romney Shoots First, Aims Later — Americans can `Judge’

Photograph by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images

President Barack Obama waves to supporters during a campaign stop on September 12, 2012 in Las Vegas.

The trailer for a two-hour movie criticizing Islam, the producer calling the religion “a cancer,” was online for over two months before the Grand Mufti of Egypt issued a statement this week condemning the film: “Freedom of speech does not warrant desecrating sanctities.”

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement on Twitter yesterday, stating that respect for religious beliefs is “a cornerstone of American democracy.” It also billed a statement on its Web site saying: “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.”

As demonstrations outside the embassy turned violent, protests breached the property, scaling the walls. 11 a.m. The embassy went to work on Twitter again: “This morning’s condemnation (issued before our protests began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy.”

That night, though his identity wasn’t public yet, U.S. envoy Christopher Stevens and three others died in an attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

And the Romney campaign went to work:

Issuing a statement originally embargoed for release at midnight, past the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against the United States, but then released after 10 pm. “I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney stated. `1It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”

The Romney campaign today defended its move — “It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests,” the campaign’s “talking points” for use on Capitol Hill and elsewhere today stated — while allies of the president, notably Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts, denounced the statement before knowing details of the attack as reckless.

“There’s a broader lesson to be learned here,” President Barack Obama said today in an interview with CBS News. “Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later. As president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that.”

Was it irresponsible, CBS’s Steve Kroft asked?

“I’ll let the American people judge that,” Obama said.

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