Journalists Freak Out as Romney Condemns Obama's Handling of Libya

Angry journalists repeatedly lashed out at a defiant Mitt Romney, Wednesday, pushing the Republican at a press conference to renounce his criticism of Barack Obama's handling of the crisis developing in Libya. In a statement on Tuesday, the presidential candidate slammed the administration's "disgraceful" response to the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Libya, which ended with the murder of ambassador Chris Stevens.

An unidentified reporter complained, "The statement from the President was a very toughly worded statement last night. Do you regret the tone at all, given what we know now?"

Another asked, given how quickly events were unfolding, was it "appropriate to be weighing in as this as this crisis is unfolding in real time? " The same question came again and again,  a total of seven times. [MP3 audio here.]

An off-camera journalist loudly attacked, "Governor, some people have said that you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Um, do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening?"

[Note: all reporters were off-camera and unidentified.]

The Washington Post described the original document put out by the U.S. embassy in Egypt:

During the protest in Cairo but hours before the attacks in Libya, the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement saying that it condemns β€œthe continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims β€” as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”

Romney refused to back down, insisting, "It's their administration. Their administration spoke. The President takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also the words that come from his ambassadors."

Still, the same question came again: "If you had known last night that the ambassador died, and, obviously, I'm gathering you did not know- If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued such a strongly issued statement?"

Romney defended his condemnation of the President's handling, asserting that "having that embassy effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course of an administration."

A transcript of the questions from Romney's September 12 press conference, which aired live on the cable news channles:

REPORTER #1 (male): The statement from the President was very toughly worded statement last night. Do you regret the tone at all, given what we know now?

REPORTER # 2 (female): Governor Romney, do you think, though, coming so soon after the events, really, had unfolded overnight was appropriate to be weighing in as this as this crisis is unfolding in real time?

...

REPORTER #3 (female): So what did the White House do wrong then, Governor, Romney, if they put out a statement-

MITT ROMNEY: It's their administration. Their administration spoke. The President takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth, but also the words that come from his ambassadors, from his administration, from his embassy, from his State Department. They clearly sent mixed messages to the world.

...

REPORTER (male) #3: You talk about mixed signals. The world is watching. Isn't this itself a mixed signal when you criticize the administration at a time when Americans are being killed? Shouldn't politics stop- [garbled]

...  

REPORTER (female) #4: Governor, some people have said that you jumped the gun a little in putting that statement out last night and that you should have waited until more details were available. Um, do you regret having that statement come out so early before we learned about all of the things that were happening?        

ROMNEY: I don't think we ever hesitate when we see something which is a violation of our principles...Having that embassy effectively apologizing for the right of free speech is not the right course of an administration.

REPORTER #5 (male): If you had known last night that the ambassador died, and, obviously, I'm gathering you did not know- If you had known that the ambassador had died, would you have issued such a strongly issued statement?

REPORTER #6: How specifically, Governor Romney, would a President Romney have handled the situation differently than President Obama?

-- Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center. Click here to follow him on Twitter.