The moment from Tuesday night’s presidential debate that likely has been the most dissected in the aftermath was President Obama’s statement — and Mitt Romney’s push back — that Mr. Obama referred to the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Libya an act of “terror” the day after they occurred.
Mr. Romney, during the debate, said it took the president two weeks to acknowledge that the attack was exclusively a terrorist assault, rather than a mob reaction to an anti-Islam film, as his administration first said.
But Mr. Obama said he talked about terror in his first remarks the day after the attack from the Rose Garden on Sept. 12, which is indeed true. At that time, he said: “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.”
Moderator Candy Crowley, who fact-checked Mr. Romney during the debate when he questioned Mr. Obama on it, said afterward that Mr. Romney’s general point was correct, but the way he went about making it was wrong.
“I heard the president speak at the time. I, sort of, reread a lot of stuff about Libya because I knew we’d probably get a Libya question, so I kind of wanted to be up on it,” Miss Crowley said. “I knew that the president had said, you know, these acts of terror won’t stand — or whatever the whole quote was.”
“Right after that I did turn around and say, but you’re totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us this was about a tape and that that there was this riot outside the Benghazi consulate which there wasn’t,” she continued. “He was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word.”
Meanwhile, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, a Romney surrogate, said Mr. Obama was clearly caught in a lie.
“The president got caught lying last night, and I think the world should know that,” he said Wednesday on CNN’s “Starting Point.” “What [Romney] did was put this into the conversation again. And now what people understand is that the president and his ambassador to the U.N. and Jay Carney, and all the apologists for this White House, and all the groupies on television that are trying to cover his butt have been lying about the president trying to deceive America that that tragedy was the result of a video rather than acknowledging right from the beginning that this was a well-planned, well-executed terrorist attack, which undermines the president’s claim that we no longer have terrorism rampant in that area.”
“This is ridiculous,” Mr. Sununu said to CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, “and if you’re going to dwell on this, you’re out of your mind.”