(NEW YORK) — In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos Thursday, Mitt Romney did not back down from his belief that the Obama administration’s first response to the Cairo protest demonstrated “sympathy” for the attackers, but he also made it clear that he was ready to move on.
“What I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate. That’s why they backed away from it as well,” Romney told Stephanopoulos.
The Cairo Embassy’s statement, released before the embassy was attacked, said it rejects “the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
When Stephanopoulos pointed out that the White House did not say the embassy’s statement showed sympathy for the attackers, Romney stuck by his remarks.
“Well, I think the statement was an inappropriate statement. I think it was not directly applicable and appropriate for the setting. I think it should have been taken down. And apparently the White House felt the same way,” he said.
In an interview with 60 Minutes Tuesday, President Obama said the statement “came from folks on the ground, who are potentially in danger. And, you know, my tendency is to cut folks a little bit of slack when they’re in that circumstance rather than try to question their judgment from the comfort of a campaign office.”
He went on to accuse Romney of displaying a “tendency to shoot first, aim later.”
Romney wouldn’t take the bait. He didn’t respond directly to the president’s barb the first time he was asked. When Stephanopoulos posed a follow-up question, all he would say was this: “Well, this is politics. I’m not going to worry about the campaign.”
Romney on the Federal Reserve and QE3
The Federal Reserve announced a third round of quantitative easing — or QE3 — Thursday, a decision Romney said proves his point that the economy is not bouncing back.
“And now the Federal Reserve, it says, ‘Look, this economy is not going well. They’re going to QE3. They’re going to print more money,” the former governor said.
“What [Fed Chairman Ben] Bernanke’s doing is saying that what the president’s saying is wrong. The president’s saying the economy’s making progress, coming back. Bernanke’s saying, ‘No, it’s not. I’ve got to print more money.’”
Romney said he doesn’t believe Bernanke’s policies will grow the economy and adds he would appoint another chairman of the Federal Reserve if he is elected president.
“I think we have to have a leadership in Washington that encourages the private sector. I think printing more money, at this point, comes at a higher cost than the benefit it’s going to create,” Romney said.
Tune in to Good Morning America at 7 a.m. ET Friday for more of ABC News’ exclusive interview with Romney.
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Laura Koran, CNN
Chris Isidore, CNN
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com