WASHINGTON -- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins disagreed on Wednesday with assessments by GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, who both said that the Obama administration sympathized with the attackers on U.S. facilities in the Middle East.
"I don't think the president sympathizes with those who perpetrated these attacks against Americans," said Perkins during an appearance at the National Press Club.
On Tuesday, Romney criticized the White House for what he viewed as a misguided response to the attacks, which occurred in Egypt and Libya.
"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," Romney said.
Priebus tweeted: "Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic."
At issue was a statement put out by the U.S. embassy in Cairo condemning an anti-Muslim video backed by extremist Florida pastor Terry Jones. The statement was released before the attacks began, which is why it didn't condemn them, but Romney continues to insist it was put out after. After the attacks, the embassy tweeted that it stood by its earlier statement on the video, although it also condemned the attacks. (Several tweets from the embassy were later deleted.)
While Perkins disagreed that Obama sympathizes with the attackers, he did criticize the administration's foreign policy and the statement from the embassy in Cairo.
"I do think that there's a propensity of this administration to apologize, as opposed to considering this as an act of war," said Perkins. "What you're seeing here is an attack on Americans. And I don't think we need to apologize for being American, and I don't think we have to apologize for something that may have happened in the borders of our country that we disagree with."
He also placed some of the blame for the attacks at Obama's doorstep, saying, "These are some of the same folks that were empowered by our actions recently in Libya, which were not approved by Congress. And we are now seeing that we are putting in place in certain parts of the world, those who are hostile toward democracy and freedom. And we need to be very careful of who we support in our foreign policy. And I quite frankly -- and this is still unfolding -- but I think this is another example of our current failed foreign policy in America."
Despite saying that the attacks in Egypt and Libya could be considered "an act of war," Perkins said it was too soon to tell whether a military response would be appropriate.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was Perkins' guest at the National Press Club luncheon. After the event, he told The Huffington Post that he wasn't familiar with Romney's reaction and couldn't comment on it.
"But I hope we'll do more than apologize," he said. "I hope we will take action to defend those who are over there representing us."
When asked whether Obama's policies bore any responsibility for what happened, he replied, "We did help put those people in position to either protect our people or to put them in harm's way, and they ended up in harm's way."
Romney drew sharp criticism for quickly politicizing the attacks, including from experienced foreign policy professionals within his own party.
Tom Ridge, secretary of homeland security under President George W. Bush, spoke out against Romney's assessment Wednesday, telling ThinkProgress, "I don’t think President Obama sympathizes with those who attacked us. I don’t think any American does."
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