In an interview with ABC News Thursday evening, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney suggested that, after all was said and done, the Obama administration concluded that his criticism of their handling of yesterday's embassy attacks was valid.
“What I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well,” Romney told George Stephanopoulos.
This is fairly impressive verbal gymnastics. Yes, the White House distanced itself from the initial statement put out by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo that condemned a crass anti-Muslim film that had been making the rounds on the Internet. And yes, Romney also criticized the issuance of that statement.
But Romney also accused the president of sympathizing with the rioters because of that initial statement, despite the fact that the embassy released it hours before the attacks took place. And while Romney may want to focus attention elsewhere, it was that specific attack on Obama that had Democrats, foreign policy experts, and a good chunk of Republicans criticizing his conduct. His statement didn't comport with the actual timeline of events.
Stephanopoulos asked Romney about it during the interview and he seemingly avoided the substance of the issue -- whether Obama does, in fact, sympathize with the rioters.
"Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement," he said. "I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way."
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post said the administration "apologized" for the anti-Muslim film. In fact, as PolitiFact noted, the embassy in Cairo condemned the movie but did not apologize for it.
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