Facing criticism for its aggressive and politically-charged response to Tuesday's violent attacks on the American embassies in Egypt and Libya, Mitt Romney's presidential campaign is quietly advising Republicans how to respond to questions about the campaign's handling of the episode.
In talking points currently being pushed to Republican leaders and top surrogates, the Romney campaign recommends attacking President's Obama "foreign policy of weakness" and dismissing questions about how the campaign responded to the crisis last night.
A sample response, as proposed by the Romney campaign officials in Boston:
"Did Governor Romney 'jump the gun' last night in releasing his statement?"
"No. It is never too soon to stand up for American values and interests."
Read the full list of message points from the Romney campaign, provided to CNN by a GOP source, below:
MESSAGE POINTS: Attacks On America's Diplomatic Missions In Libya And Egypt
- We join all Americans in grieving for the four American patriots who lost their lives in yesterday's attacks and send our condolences to their loved ones.
- This is a time for America to be firm and resolute - and to make clear beyond any doubt that America will not tolerate attacks on our own.
- The violence against the American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt underscores that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is sorely needed.
- Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents both opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also great peril if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.
We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring is not followed by an Arab Winter.
- American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region do not spin out of control.
- We have seen a foreign policy of weakness and decline in American influence and respect. Yesterday, we saw the consequences of this perceived weakness.
- America cannot send mixed signals to either our allies or our enemies.
- We must not be afraid to use our influence to support those who share our values and interests - and to stand firm against those who threaten them. America cannot shrink from its responsibility to lead.
Questions & Answers:
Don't you think it was appropriate for the embassy to condemn the controversial movie in question? Are you standing up for movies like this?
- Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.
- But we will not apologize for our constitutional right to freedom of speech.
- Storming U.S. missions and committing acts of violence is never acceptable, no matter the reason. Any response that does not immediately and decisively make that clear conveys weakness.
- If pressed: Governor Romney repudiated this individual in 2010 when he attempted to mobilize a Quran-burning movement. He is firmly against any expression of religious hatred or intolerance.
Reports indicate the embassy in Cairo released its initial statement before the invasion of the embassy commenced. Doesn't this show they were trying to tamp down the protest and prevent what ultimately happened, not sympathize with the protesters?
- The Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions.