WASHINGTON -- Mitt Romney, continuing a series of television interviews that began last night on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” this afternoon dropped any reluctance he had last week to discuss foreign policy and repeatedly criticized President Obama.
In a series of interviews — with ABC, CBS, and NBC — Romney said President Obama was wrong to say there would be “bumps in the road” as the Middle East goes through turmoil.
“His indication that developments in the Middle East represent bumps in the road is a very different view than I have,” Romney told ABC News. “I can’t imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road.”
In an interview that aired last night on “60 Minutes,” Obama said that “there are going to be bumps in the road because...in a lot of these places the one organizing principle has been Islam.”
Obama was responding to a question about recent events in the Middle East, and whether it gave him pause about how his administration has handled the Arab Spring. He didn’t directly refer to the the attacks in Libya, which killed four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
“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 Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith. “Using this incident to launch political attacks should be beneath someone seeking to be our nation’s commander-in-chief.”
Romney, who initially criticized Obama two weeks ago before the full scope of the attacks were known, was criticized by even those in his own party for seeming to be too politically opportunistic in the aftermath of a deadly attack on a US consolate.
But following the “60 Minutes” interview, which aired Sunday night and featured lengthy interviews with both Romney and Obama, the Romney campaign has been forefully adopting a new, more rigorous tone on foreign policy.
Obama’s use of “bumps in the road” to describe turmoil abroad has been something Romney’s campaign has tried to utilize, starting almost as soon as the interview aired on Sunday and continuing throughout the day.
The line also happens to be how Obama last year described the economy — “There’s always going to bumps on the road to recovery” — in what Romney turned into an ad campaign, recording various people holding up signs and saying, “I’m an American, not a bump in the road.”
The Romney campaign this afternoon sent out a press release titled, “A foreign policy in disarray,” and announced plans on Tuesday for House majority leader Eric Cantor to hold a conference call on “President Obama’s troubling remarks on the Middle East.”
“When the president was speaking about bumps in the road he was talking about the developments in the Middle East and that includes an assassination — it includes a Muslim brotherhood individual becoming president of Egypt, it includes Syria being in tumult, it includes Iran being on the cusp of having nuclear capability, it includes Pakistan being in commotion,” Romney told NBC News. “There are extraordinary events going on in the Middle East and considering those events either one of them or all of them collectively as bumps in the road shows a person who has a very different perspective about world affairs and the perspective I have.”
Obama and Romney are both traveling to New York on Tuesday to appear at the Clinton Global Initiative, which is being run by President Clinton. Obama is also addressing the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly. Republicans have noted that he won’t hold any private meetings with world leaders, but has found time for an appearance on the daytime television show “The View.”
Romney’s campaign did not respond to questions over whether he himself plans any meetings with foreign leaders before he leaves to campaign in Ohio.