GOP nominee Mitt Romney made his first comments on an anti-Muslim video that has been blamed for riots in Egypt, Libya and elsewhere in the Middle East in an ABC News interview released Friday.
Romney said he had no plans to see the video, "Innocence of Muslims." "I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say. And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it," he said. "Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do."
Romney went on, "They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film."
He was asked whether he approved of Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs Of Staff, calling Florida pastor Terry Jones to ask him to stop promoting the film. He didn't answer directly, but continued to condemn the film.
"I think the whole film is a terrible idea. I think him making it, promoting it showing it is disrespectful to people of other faiths. I don’t think that should happen. I think people should have the common courtesy and judgment -- the good judgment -- not to be -- not to offend other peoples’ faiths. It’s a very bad thing, I think, this guy’s doing."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called the video "disgusting and reprehensible" Thursday but also added that there was "no justification" for responding to it with violence. She added that there was nothing that the United States government could do to stop it.
Romney also did not attack President Obama's foreign policy directly with respect to two countries -- Iran and Egypt. He said that he had the same "red line" as Obama on Iranian nuclear capacity, a striking statement since Romney has attacked Obama's policy heavily. He did, however, say that his steps to contain Iran had not been taken. On Obama's comment -- recently clarified by the White House -- that Egypt is neither an ally or an enemy, Romney said, "Well, right now, officially, Egypt is an ally of the United States, under the policy of the United States. The president’s saying they are not may reflect the fact that there’s been a change in government and a change in relationship as a result of that."
Romney forecast that Obama would not tell the truth in debates, tempting Romney to channel former President Ronald Reagan.
"Well I think he’s going to say a lot of things that aren’t accurate. And you know, I’d be tempted to go back to that wonderful line by Ronald Reagan, 'There you go again,'" Romney said, adding that he doubted that he would have to use the line because Reagan's "one of a kind."
He continued, "But I think the challenge that I’ll have in the debate is that the president tends to, how shall I say it, to say things that aren’t true. And in attacking his opponents."
"I’ve looked at prior debates. And in that kind of case, it’s difficult to say, 'Well, am I going to spend my time correcting things that aren’t quite accurate? Or am I going to spend my time talking about the things I want to talk about?'"