Both presidential candidates were aggressive during the town hall style debate on Long Island Tuesday night, but the talk Wednesday morning has centered on whether moderator Candy Crowley overstepped her bounds regarding an exchange where Mitt Romney claimed it took President Barack Obama 14 days to call what happened on September 11 of this year in Benghazi “an act of terror.” The president claimed he called it an act of terror the day after the attack, and Crowley concurred to cheers from the crowd.
In fact, on September 12 from the rose garden Obama did say “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.”
But as Noah Rothman writes in Mediaite Wednesday morning, context of both his cabinet statements for two weeks after the attack and in the rest of the president’s own September 12 speech indicates that the Obama administration did not label what happened in Benghazi a terrorist attack for some time.
“No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” said Obama in the Rose Garden on September 12, after two paragraphs of recounting how Americans responded to the attacks of September 11, 2001. The Obama campaign, knowing that they had advanced a false narrative for weeks and were being called on it, found the word “terror” in his initial response and relied on that speech to show that the president had known the Libya attack was terror all along.
This is wildly offensive to everyone who followed the story closely, but the president seemed to think that he could perhaps get away with it if he had the assistance of complicit journalists who would not fact check that hard. He could not have known the kind of gift he would receive from Candy Crowley — amid a presidential debate, no less.
While Crowley has since walked back her actions a bit, the damage is done. Is there a silver lining though for the Romney campaign that is confident Obama is in the wrong for his original reaction to attack ,which will now certainly be a large focus of the next debate on foreign policy?
Watch a clip below from ‘Real News’ Wednesday breaking down the debate and the implications of what some have labeled Crowley’s false fact-check: