*In an interview with “60 Minutes” to air this Sunday, President Obama suggested that Mitt Romney acted too quickly in responding to the U.S. embassy in Cairo’s statement condemning an anti-Islam video, reports Politico.
“There’s a broader lesson to be learned here. Gov. Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later,” Obama told CBS News’s Steve Kroft in an interview that was actually scheduled before the four Americans were killed Tuesday at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
“As president, one of the things I’ve learned is you can’t do that,” Obama added. “It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”
Asked if Romney’s remarks were irresponsible, Obama responded: “I’ll let the American people judge that.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney read more of what Obama said in the interview to reporters aboard Air Force One as the president headed to Las Vegas for an evening campaign event.
Most Republicans “reacted responsibly, waiting to find out the facts before they talk, making sure that our number one priority is the safety and security of American personnel,” Obama said, according to Carney. “It appears that Gov. Romney didn’t have his facts right.”
There is “never an excuse for violence against Americans, which is why my number one priority and my initial statement focused on making sure that not only are Americans safe, but that we go after anybody who would attack Americans,” the president added, according to Carney.
As previously reported, Romney blasted the Cairo embassy’s statement on the film, saying Tuesday night 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.” The embassy’s statement was released before the attack in Libya, amid protests that brought a few thousand people onto the streets of Cairo.
Romney doubled down on his sentiment during a press conference Wednesday morning, in which he said that the president and his administration “clearly sent mixed messages to the world.”
In his interview with CBS News — according to Carney’s reading of the president’s statements — Obama defended the embassy’s response, saying it was “an effort to cool the situation down” as protests broke out in Cairo. “It didn’t come from me. It didn’t come from Secretary Clinton. It came from folks on the ground who are potentially in danger. And my tendency is to cut those folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”
More broadly, Obama added, “we believe in the First Amendment. It is one of the hallmarks of our Constitution that I am sworn to uphold. And so we are always going to uphold the rights for individuals to speak their minds. On the other hand, this film is not representative of who we are and our values, and I think it’s important for us to communicate that.”