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Posted by on Oct 17, 2012 in 2012 Elections, Media, Politics | 14 comments

Candy Crowley Says She Did NOT “Backtrack” on Romney Libya Statement

This morning yours truly got some emails accusing TMV of being a “liberal” site that lies and is written by “liars” due to our mentioning Candy Crowley’s fact check of Mitt Romney’s comment in last night’s debate about President Barack Obama and Libya (one referred to our long news blog roundup on the debate). Another called the site a bunch of socialists. (These messages have been relocated to the delete box, but I think the box has rejected them)

Eugene Robinson’s column here on TMV mentions it, countless other news organizations mention it, agencies such as AFP mention it, a Google News search mentions it and Romney’s bungle — and there is indeed tape.

So that must mean that all the reporters, analysts etc. that noted this part of the debate are liberals, socialists and liars as well. An argument can be made as to whether Romney could have phrased his assertion more accurately. That’s a different issue from arguing Romney was correct in his assertion.

But the emails to TMV are small potatoes: this morning conservative GOPers have been saying Crowley backtracked on her comment to Romney. That’s a pretty big development.

The only problem now: she says she did no such thing:

Be sure to read The Huffington Post piece about her not backtracking.

Attack and discredit really are the two motifs of American politics now.

But Romney AND Obama need to be forewarned: Crowley made it clear she was not going to do a Jim Lehrer imitation — and most assuredly neither will Bob Schieffer who moderate the debate next week. They both better have their facts straight.

To follow the denunciations on weblogs of Crowley GO HERE.

Here’s Andrew Rosenthal’s take on this:

When George H.W. Bush looked at his watch in a 1992 debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot and absolutely bungled a question about how the national debt had affected him personally, he cemented the impression that he was out of touch with real Americans’ lives.

When Gerald Ford denied in 1976 that there was any “Soviet domination” of Eastern Europe, he cemented the impression that he was out of touch with pretty much everything.

Tonight, Mitt Romney may have had a similar moment, during a back-and-forth about the attack on the Benghazi Consulate.

Mr. Romney clearly thought he had a big opening and he moved in for the kill when Mr. Obama said he had called the attack a terrorist act the very next day, in a Rose Garden speech.

“I think it’s interesting the president just said something which is that on the day after the attack, he went in the Rose Garden and said that this was an act of terror.”

“That’s what I said,” Mr. Obama replied.

Mr. Romney: “I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”

At that point, Candy Crowley, the debate moderator, stepped in. “He did in fact, sir,” she said.

“Can you say that a little louder, Candy?” asked Mr. Obama.

Whoever coached Mr. Romney on that question did the candidate no favors. Here’s what the president said in the Rose Garden: “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.” A little purple– and the administration’s subsequent line on what happened was confusing–but he undeniably used the word “terror.”

FOOTNOTE: It was clear before the debate that if Crowley tried to control it she would be under fire. Those who are now demonizing her now could not have picked a more difficult target to try and discredit. In fact, Crowley has had a highly distinguished career as a broadcast journalist.

She’s not a right wing or left wing ideological talker and not a news personality. She’s a reporter who has been trained to try and gather information which means operating in a fact-based professional world. Asking follow up questions and reminding interview subjects of facts that may be at variance with their declarations is part of that training. She’s someone who is from the “old school” of journalism.

And so is Schieffer. Hopefully, Obama’s and Romney’s handlers will remind them of that,

UPDATE: Just got two more emails saying she backtracked. So here are some more links saying she did not:
Go here
and here
and here
and here

But what do facts matter in politics anymore?

It’s how many times you say an assertion and get others to say and write it that apparently counts.

But if I’ve figured out the way our politics now operates, now some will say she’s backtracked about backtracking.

She can deny it but, hey, if you say it often enough…

It sure beats writing about Romney’s misfire in the use of the potentially strong Libya issue.

UPDATE: Here’s CNN’s video as issued by them on this:

And we don’t usually run a full post, but here’s CNN’s full post which should set to rest once and for all whether she has backtracked:

Crowley says she did not backtrack on Libya ‘acts of terror’ debate moment
CNN’s Chief Political Correspondent and State of the Union Anchor Candy Crowley addresses moderating the second presidential debate, including the question of whether or not President Obama characterized the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi as “terror” in the Rose Garden the next day. CNN Anchor Soledad O’Brien asks Crowley if charges that she backtracked after the debate are accurate.

Crowley says, “Listen, what I said on that stage is the same thing I said to you actually last night… I was trying to move this along because the question was Benghazi. There is no question that the administration is quite vulnerable on his topic. That they did take weeks to go ‘well actually there really wasn’t a protest and actually didn’t have anything to do with the tape.’ That took a long time. That’s where he was going. That was [Romney’s] first answer…. Then we got hung up on this ‘yes he said,’ ‘no I didn’t,’ ‘I said terror,’ ‘you didn’t say terror.’ And there was this point where they both kind of looked at me…. And what I wanted to do was move this along…. So I said, [The President] did say ‘acts of terror… but Governor Romney, you are perfectly right, that it took weeks for them to get past the tape –.’”
O’Brien asks, “Not a backtrack?”

Crowley responds, “No… Did the President say this was an act of terror? The President did not say…. He said ‘these acts of terror,’ but he was in the Rose Garden to talk about Benghazi so I don’t think that’s a leap.”

Before the commercial break Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) says he thinks it’s not the role of the moderator to determine who is right or wrong when the debaters are disagreeing.

Crowley responds to Chaffetz’s comments, “Again, I was trying to move them on. They were hung up on this one thing. Now, again, Mitt Romney had gone out and said at first they said it was the tape and they said it was this. And then they got hung up on did he say “act of terror” or did he not? And I was just trying to say he said “acts of terror”, but you’re perfectly correct, they took weeks, two weeks actually was short, they took a month to figure out, or to at least tell us. And then he got back on, yes, the track. “

CNN Contributor Roland Martin adds, “Congressman [Chaffetz] is dead wrong. If you stand there and say something that is wrong you should be corrected on the spot. Look, I have no problem even having a table of fact checkers there. We shouldn’t wait until the debate is over and then have different people saying, ‘well this was right, this was wrong.’”

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  • CStanley

    Sheesh, she didn’t backtrack because her comments after the debate were to point to both parts of her statement. She seemed to be doing that because everyone was cherry picking the part about Romney getting the wording part wrong while ignoring that she also said his main point was correct. There was no backtracking because she stands by both parts of that, and seemingly felt that taking the one part of it out of context was not accurately conveying her meaning.

  • cjjack

    What you’re seeing here is not much more than a temper tantrum. The Romney supporters know that while there were a lot of blows landed in last nights debate, the Libya exchange was the equivalent of Rocky landing a hay maker on Ivan Drago.

    Rather than admit their guy bungled what should have been an easy opportunity to hit back at the President, they’re trying to shift the blame onto anyone but Mitt.

    That loss has clearly rattled them, and I think they’re scared for another reason. As I said last night, the next debate is on foreign policy. If the Obama that showed up last night appears at the next debate, then Mitt will lose that round, and quite possibly the election as a result.

    If that happens, lord help us survive the temper tantrum the right will no doubt throw.

  • CStanley

    I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt cjjack and presume that you felt similarly about the criticism of Jim Lehrer after the first debate.

  • slamfu

    She backtracked.

    Obama is a Muslim.

    Obama isn’t a citizen.

    Obama is a socialist.

    Just keep saying it and it’ll be as close to truth as we need it to be to get the job done. Thank you statistically significant portions of voters for being stupid and gullible.

  • dduck

    Can’t backtrack since she said what she said and it was accurate. What Obama meant, a whole other kettle of fish.

  • dduck

    After that exchange, Crowley said this: “CROWLEY: He — he did call it an act of terror. It did as well take — it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.”
    Say that a little louder.
    Crowley also rightfully stopped the debate on that point to save time and in light of the fact that the next debate could cover that: “CROWLEY: Absolutely. But I want to — I want to move you on and also”

  • rudi

    Larison writes about Mittens flub.
    http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/romney-somehow-manages-to-bungle-his-biggest-opportunity-to-attack-on-foreign-policy/
    If Mittens really believed in something, instead of playing to his base and spitting out boilerplate talking points, he could have fared better on the Libya exchange.

    Foreign policy issues occupied a small portion of tonight’s debate, but they had an enormous impact on the outcome. The main sustained exchange between the two candidates on these issues was a clear defeat for Romney. This isn’t just my judgment, but was the widely shared view of observers from across the spectrum. Incredibly, Romney was so wedded to the idea that the administration didn’t acknowledge a terrorist attack on the consulate that he managed to get some basic facts wrong on Obama’s initial statement on September 12. One would think that his campaign would have made the effort to double-check the support for one of his biggest attacks of the night.

    It has been taken for granted for weeks that the attack on the consulate was a political liability for Obama, and it still could be, but Romney flubbed his criticisms so badly that he turned it into an advantage for his opponent. He took an issue where he had a clear opening and advantage and completely failed to drive the point home. It was a measure of how much he was flailing in that exchange that Romney rattled off a list of his boilerplate remarks about international events, and these amounted to little more than a series of rehearsed complaints completely disconnected from any policy positions. It was Romney’s theme throughout the entire night: “Bad things are happening. I have no answers. Elect me.”

    Romney has no foreign policy experience, and tonight everyone clearly saw that. He is superficially conversant with foreign policy issues, but hasn’t taken the time to learn enough about them to speak about them effectively or persuasively. Romney’s bad judgment and his lack of preparation on this front were on display, and it has probably become clear to a much wider audience that Romney lacks important qualifications for the Presidency.

  • CStanley

    Rudi, IMO Larison is overstating it but I agree with his main points.

  • dduck

    Flub, definetely. Wrong, no.

  • zephyr

    But what do facts matter in politics anymore?

    To the party of Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh facts are essentially meaningless.

  • Facts, pffft.

    You know who worries about facts? Stinkin’ liberals! Now get off my lawn!

  • ShannonLeee

    I can’t believe people send you emails…. wouldn’t it be better to just log in and comment?

    Losers blame the ref… period.
    Dems are still blasting Lehrer and Reps are blasting the last two ladies.

    Pretty simple…the refs call it how they see it and the players must adjust to the ref. This is something I have taught 12 year olds.

  • Franciscan

    Of course she backtracked. Here’s what she said during the debate.

    “He did in fact, sir….He — he did call it an act of terror.”

    So, she stated it as an absolute **fact**. According to her, Romney was objectively, factually wrong and Obama was objectively, factually right.

    But here’s what she said on CNN with Anderson Cooper:

    ““Romney was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word.”

    So she has gone from calling it an objective fact, to equivocating by saying “I think” now.

    That’s back-tracking.

    She also made up a false excuse for why she jumped in to play defense for the president. She gave the following explanation on CNN with Soledad O’Brien as to why she stepped in during the controversial Benghazi segment of the presidential debate: “There was this point where they both kind of looked at me, you know, and then, you know, Romney’s looking at me, the president’s looking at me, and what I wanted to do was move this along.”

    Her claim is false and that is easily verifiable on the tape. They did not “both” look at her for help before she stepped in. There was only **one** debater who was looking at her at all when she stepped in: President Obama. Governor Romney only looked at her **after** she began to support President Obama – and understandably so. She’s supposed to be a moderator, not another debater.

  • dduck

    Fran, they did both look at her like she was a line judge at a tennis match. Your points are fine but Crowley just had a reflexive response.

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