This afternoon, the Obama campaign’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter melted down not once, but twice on national television. On a day the Obama campaign anticipated discussing the vice presidential debate, set to take place tonight at 9 p.m., they were instead issuing clarifications and creating a media firestorm.
While on CNN discussing the September 11 attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Cutter remarked, “The entire reason that this [the Benghazi terror attack] has become the political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan — it’s a big part of their stump speech, and it’s reckless and irresponsible.”
BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski immediately pounced on the remarks, paraphrasing Cutter on Twitter. From there, the story exploded as liberals and conservatives felt the need to remind Cutter and the Obama campaign that the outrage over Libya is centered on the deaths of four Americans, including the first ambassador killed in the line of duty since 1979. The gross negligence of those tasked with ensuring security was the topic of a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday, which Alana followed closely. The lack of security, in addition to the Obama administration’s flatfooted response, has indeed been a topic of conversation — for journalists and politicians alike.
Many, including myself, expected an immediate apology and perhaps even a resignation after Cutter’s remarks, however she soon doubled down in a written release to BuzzFeed and in person to Townhall’s Katie Pavlich, and later in a furious interview to Fox News’s Bret Baier.
It appears that Cutter was expressing the campaign’s belief that Romney’s stated concerns over national security are solely attributable to his desire to be elected as President Obama’s replacement. In the statement issued to BuzzFeed Cutter stated,
From the time of the attack in Libya, Mitt Romney has stopped at nothing to politicize these events. While Mitt Romney, Congressman Ryan, and their Republican allies in Congress have turned a national tragedy into a political circus, the President has been focused on getting the facts, finding the terrorists responsible, and bringing them to justice. Our nation’s security and how we handle the transitions in the Middle East and North Africa are critical issues in this campaign, and just 26 days before an election, the American people deserve real ideas and specifics from Mitt Romney.
The Obama campaign, which has spent the better part of the last week focusing on Big Bird, would like to get serious on issues of policy and leave unsaid developing matters of national security. It appears in Obama’s world immediately placing blame for a terror attack on a video next to nobody has seen constitutes “getting the facts” while Romney’s remarks about not apologizing for America in the face of a terror attack were merely politicization.
In job interviews, candidates are asked about their prior performance before being made an offer. This election is a job interview, and Obama’s performance as president is critical to his candidacy. Obama cannot seriously expect Americans to ignore his administration’s actions both before and after September 11 in Benghazi, nor can he ask Romney to leave his record unmentioned. In the face of developing issues of national security Romney and his surrogates have taken the right line with critiques of the president’s policies and actions without trying to drive from the back seat. Cutter’s assertions that Romney explain his own plans would be incredibly inappropriate for a presidential candidate, undermining a sitting president in the midst of a crisis, however self-created.