In light of Tuesday's tragedies regarding the murders in Libya of US Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his fellow colleagues, presidential hopeful Mitt Romney added another blemish to his fumble- filled season of foreign policy politics. According to Politico's chief political correspondent Mike Allen, the major media networks received an email from Romney's campaign around ten p.m. Tuesday evening concerning how "...disgraceful the Obama Administration's first response..." was to the diplomatic crises unfolding at U.S. consulates in Libya and Egypt. Of course being the anniversary of our nation's most horrific terrorist attack, Romney's campaign advised the media not to release these incendiary remarks until one minute after midnight in order to avoid disrespecting the President on this solemn day. However, the Romney campaign seemed unfettered by the fact that our diplomats and Foreign Service members in the region were still under siege by enraged radical Islamist's groups.
Pundits quickly took this story to the airwaves, emboldened by what was considered a cheap shot at the President during such an alarming time for our diplomats abroad. But Romney should not take full responsibility for this misstep. He may have been attempting to sway voter opinion away from his reputation of always 'playing it safe'. It seems more likely, though, that Romney saw this diplomatic ordeal as an opportunity to gain back a few percentage points the President gained as a result of his "Convention Bump".
Romney's advisers and political consultants must shoulder the majority of the responsibility for their handling of the campaign's response to this tragic event. Their misstep should not come as a surprise for the Republican nominee's campaign. All season long, Romney's campaign has shown their utter lack of political prowess regarding foreign policy. They have allowed him to make comments on CNN about Russia being our " number one geopolitical foe". They have allowed him to insult British officials while visiting London during the 2012 Olympics. They even allowed him to deliver his RNC presidential nomination acceptance speech while managing to completely omit any verbiage concerning the war being waged in Afghanistan, or the troops that are fighting it.
Instead of patching up what could have been chalked up to merely overzealous comments made on Tuesday night, Romney's camp doubled down on their criticisms. Romney stated in a public address that the President "... bore responsibility for statements by his embassies..." which Romney claimed were apologetic and sympathetic to violent rioters storming the US embassies. Rather than Romney just pressing the mute button and letting emotions simmer as the facts are unveiled, his doubling down may have been a "game changer", according to Romney's 2008 campaign adviser Alex Castellanos, with respect to Romney's ability to win this November.
If this were a football game, all of Romney's foreign policy plays this season would be re-runs of him getting sacked inside his own end zone. The advisors -- Romney's offensive line -- are much to blame for the amateurish and un-presidential response to the diplomatic turmoil on Tuesday. Credit must also be given to the President for not trading jabs with Romney, for that would neutralize the President's popular foreign policy platform -- Obama's defensive line. His refusal to engage in the political posturing also reflects well on the dignity of the Office of the President of the United States. Although subliminal, this type of message is quietly effective with voters across the political spectrum.
This is unusual territory for any Democratic President. Somehow Romney continues to lose points in a field that has been singularly dominated by his own party during the past half-century. Perhaps, Coach Romney should consider putting in his second string. They could hardly do any more harm than what the starters have done.