Friday Lightning Round: Politics of Mideast crisis; next overseas hotspot

'Special Report' All-Star panel weighs in


This is a rush transcript from "Special Report," September 14, 2012. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A president who skips half of his intelligence briefings but finds time to play more than 100 rounds of golf, hits the campaign trail after a U.S. ambassador is murdered in the line of duty, snubs a vital U.S. ally's request for an emergency meeting to discuss a nuclear threat while scheduling celebrity fundraisers and a "Letterman" appearance.

The most important duty for any president is to protect our nation and its citizens. Mr. President, it's time to show up for work.


BRET BAIER, HOST: That is the latest super PAC ad supporting Mitt Romney, the American Crossroads airing an ad trying to support Mitt Romney. This is the Friday Lightning Round, but we want to talk about the politics of this whole thing. Your choice this week, by the way, in the vote was the next foreign hot spot. We'll do it at the very end. Susan, start with you.  That ad, your reaction, and the whole politics deal?

SUSAN MILLIGAN, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: I don't know that they want to draw attention to the reaction to this episode because it puts attention back on Mitt Romney.  The first thing I thought when I saw him give those remarks, those ill-informed and the ill-timed remarks he wanted to make this election a referendum instead of a choice. He is. He's now making a referendum on himself and his judgment. And the fact that he doubled down I think makes it worse.  That ad will shore up the base of people who already dislike Obama, but they don't need to draw attention to this. You have to be very, very careful what you say as an American --

BAIER: But what -- let me -- you make good points about what many in the press have been saying over the past two days. But what about the substance of that ad about the intelligence briefings, about the president going to Vegas after the -- is there something that sticks there?

MILLIGAN: Well, Romney's campaigning after this happened. I don't think anybody -- does anybody really think that Obama is not paying attention to - -


MILLIGAN: I understand. But it's not as though -- does anybody really think that Obama is not paying attention to this crisis?

KRAUTHAMMER: He is doing anything? Has he said anything?

MILLIGAN: He has been saying things all day.

STEVE HAYES, SENIOR WRITER, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: He has also been campaigning. There is this idea in press Romney is the only making political comments or campaigning or doing anything political. It's total and complete and utter nonsense. David Axelrod morning on the morning of 9/11 sent a tweet hitting Mitt Romney for his fundraising. Bill Clinton held a rally for President Obama harshly attacking Mitt Romney and Republicans on Medicare. Ben Labolt put out a statement later that night. President Obama released ad attacking Republicans on abortion on 9/11. You have the Obama trip to Las Vegas, the day after the service, the president going to the DNC. You have him e-mailing supports asking for help.

This has been political the entire time. The idea that Mitt Romney is the one who is coming in and being political when the president has been doing this and the campaign has been doing this at every turn, is preposterous.

MILLIGAN: The problem is this. It's being political, we all understood Governor Romney's comments for being about domestic politics. People overseas don't see it that way. And so when a prominent American gets up there and says you know this was an apology, that reinforces a very, very wrong, very misguided, somewhat irrational belief that somehow the U.S. government sanctioned a video like this. People really --

HAYES: But I was an apology.

MILLIGAN: It was not an apology.

BAIER: Charles?

KRAUTHAMMER: Why wasn't the German embassy stormed in Sudan?

MILLIGAN: Because --

KRAUTHAMMER: Germany wasn't involved in any way. Speaking with the mob and appeasing it won't work, especially a mobthat doesn't even know which country it should attack.

The real problem here is even is looking at this through the prism of the campaign. Yes, this is an election. But American interests are on fire all over the Middle East and North Africa. And the president is absent. He hasn't spoken or explained his policy. And the press -- this is malpractice on part of press -- obsessed with one statement Romney made and not asking the president what has happened to the outreach you made at Cairo, the mutual respect, the new beginning. What is happening in the Middle East, what are you doing about it? Can you explain how your policy after three years has resulted in this catastrophe? That is a question that the president hasn't been asking. He is the president. The fact it hasn't been asked is simply astonishing.

BAIER: Five seconds. Next foreign hot spot?

KRAUTHAMMER: Iran/Israel. Israel now has its back to the wall. And we heard Netanyahu, it looks as if he is distressed. He may act.

BAIER: A long five seconds. 


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