On Romney’s Libya comments, Pete King says he would have waited

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Representative Peter King, the Long Island Republican who chairs the Homeland Security Committee in the House, said he agrees with the overall point Mitt Romney was trying to make about the Obama administration's reaction to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

"I think he was right on the larger point," King said. "I probably would have waited a day or half a day."

Romney's statement last night, which may have come before he knew the extent of the violence, denounced as too weak a statement from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, which criticized an American film that disparaged the prophet Muhammad. The White House subsequently said that it did not authorize the Cairo message, which appears to have been intended to tamp down violent protests over the film. 

"I don't know whether that was approved by the State Department in advance, I don't know whether people in the administration knew about it," King said. "But that statement [from the embassy in Cairo] is too reflective of a policy of accommodation in the Middle East. No matter how blasphemous a film is, there's no equivalency between a blasphemous film and storming an embassy. And so that shouldn't even come up in the context of an embassy being stormed or about to be stormed." 

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King said that kind of statement was "giving in to a mob."

"I don't think we should be putting ourselves in a position where we have to explain ourselves to a mob," he said.

Romney essentially reiterated his statement  his morning, and has long maintained that the United States is too apologetic to foreign countries. He titled his recent policy book "No Apology," in which he singles out the same foreign tour which King referred to as an "apology tour."

King, who sits on the Intelligence Committee in addition to chairing the Homeland Security Committee, said he had yet to receive a briefing on the attacks.

I asked King what he thought about the president's comments that the United States would be working with the Libyan government to bring the perpetrators to justice.

"I'm not trying to play semantics here, but I think the president should have phrased that differently because this goes beyond Libya," he said. "I mean we're talking about possible unrest throughout the Middle East. We see it in Cairo, we see it in Libya now. And I think we should be sending a signal that this was an attack on the United States so we're not working through Libya or with Libya.

"Libya can help us if they want, but the United States is going to find out who did it and get them."