Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney took aim at President Barack Obama for calling the unrest in the Middle East “bumps in the road,” saying Monday that the remarks show how different their views are on foreign policy and exemplify the president’s lack of leadership on the world stage.
“Bumps in the road, we had an ambassador assassinated. We had a Muslim Brotherhood … member elected to the presidency of Egypt,” Romney told about 1,600 people at a rally on the tarmac in Pueblo, Colorado.
“Twenty thousand people have been killed in Syria. We have tumult in Pakistan and, of course, Iran is that much closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. These are not bumps in the road, these are human lives, these are developments we do not want to see.
“This is [the] time for a president who will shape events in the Middle East, not just be merciful or be at the mercy of the events of the Middle East. I will get America on track to have the kind of leadership we need so we can shape the future of this part of the world and keep America strong.”
Romney was referring to a statement that Obama made during an interview with “60 Minutes” that aired Sunday. His comments came after being asked whether he had any doubts about American-backed governments that have come into power in the Middle East, given recent events in the region.
“I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights, a notion that people have to be able to participate in their own governance,” the president said. “But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road.”
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama had been referring to the transitions taking place in the region, and called Romney’s remarks “desperate and offensive.” An Obama campaign spokeswoman accused Romney of politicizing an international crisis for personal gain.
“He’s purposely misinterpreting the president’s words and making reckless statements about the death of four Americans in Libya, apparently for the sole purpose of his own political gain,” said spokeswoman Lis Smith. “Using this incident to launch political attacks should be beneath someone seeking to be our nation’s commander in chief.”
Romney pushed the matter throughout the day, on interviews with the television networks and at the rally.
“Look, the world looks at the event going on – they don’t see these events as bumps in the road,” Romney said. “These are lives. This is humanity. This is freedom. Freedom must be on the march. We must stand for freedom.”