The Hill’s Pundits Blog September 14, 2012



Mitt’s panic attack

By Peter Fenn – 09/14/12 10:28 AM ET

This has been a bad week for Mitt Romney.

First, he gave a terrible interview on “Meet the Press” where he couldn’t name a single loophole he would cut to make up the $5 trillion he pledged in tax cuts for the wealthy. He then stated his support for ending pre-existing conditions for health coverage — except, not really, not for those not already insured; not, it turns out, for over 80 million Americans. Not a good start to the week.

But the coup de grace for Mitt was his decision on Sept. 11 to move up his crass attack on President Obama from a midnight embargo to 10:30 to make the evening news and the morning papers. Romney called Obama “disgraceful” and maintained that the president “sympathize[d] with those who waged the attacks.” Clearly, this was a horrendous mistake, condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike.
And now, the Romney team is doubling down, maintaining that under a President Romney none of this would have happened! They are in full-scale panic mode; they are making the McCain campaign look calm, cool and collected.

Let’s put this in perspective.

Here are two quotes from candidates for the presidency during a time of crisis in the Middle East:

“This is a difficult day for all of us Americans. … It is time for us … to stand united. It is a day for quiet reflection … when words should be few and confined essentially to our prayers.”

“I unequivocally support the president of the United States — no ifs, ands or buts — and it certainly is not a time to try to go one-up politically. He made a difficult, courageous decision.”

The first quote is from Ronald Reagan in the spring of 1980 after the failed attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages. The second quote is from George H.W. Bush, also a candidate in the Republican primaries for president, at the same time.

Neither Reagan nor Bush took a cheap shot. Neither man went after President Carter with a politically harsh statement when eight Americans lost their lives. Neither man rushed out a press release before checking the facts.

This Romney campaign panic attack has rebounded on Romney and given Americans the impression that he would shoot first and ask questions later as commander in chief. This is not steady, strong leadership. This is cheap-shot leadership and it will cost him dearly, as well as costing the country.

For the Romney campaign to double down on this very serious mistake surely indicates that its sole concern is playing politics with our national security. Sad.