Romney, GOP Scrambles After Ill-Timed Obama Libya Critique

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The planned politics-free Tuesday ended ahead of schedule for Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. His campaign released a statement Tuesday evening blasting the wrong response to attacks on American diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, thinking they were made by the Obama administration. "It'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,” read Romney’s statement, initially embargoed by the campaign until midnight Wednesday.

The statement came out just as the international community learned of the deadly attack on American diplomat J. Christopher Stevens, the ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans. Romney made the statement before Stevens’ death was reported, but he did not walk them back on Wednesday morning. The response Romney criticized was actually made by U.S. Embassy staff in Cairo via Twitter, not White House or State Department staff. Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt expressed the campaign’s astonishment at Romney’s carelessly released comments. “We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack,” LaBolt said in an emailed statement.

President Obama and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton held a press conference from the White House Rose Garden to express their condolences and called for increased security for American diplomats and U.S. embassies. By Wednesday afternoon, Republican and Democratic foreign policy hands were blasting Romney’s “cheap news cycle hit,” Buzzfeed reports