(WASHINGTON) — Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., suggested on Wednesday that President Obama’s response to the embassy attacks in Egypt and Libya was akin to a court asking a rape victim for an apology.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill, the 70-year old, retiring senator said:
“It’s like the judge telling the woman who got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed.’ OK? That’s the same thing. ‘Well, America, you should be the ones to apologize, you should have known this would happen, you should have done — what I don’t know — but it’s your fault that it happened.’ You know, for a member of our State Department to put out a statement like that, it had to be cleared by somebody. They don’t just do that in the spur of the moment.”
Kyl likely referred to criticism by U.S. diplomats in Egypt of a U.S.-produced film that reportedly features a negative depiction of Islam’s prophet, Muhammed. The film was cited later during the attack on the U.S. embassy in Egypt.
“It came from people on the ground, who are potentially in danger,” Obama told 60 Minutes. “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.”
Mitt Romney was the first to attack the president, releasing a statement Tuesday night that claimed the White House’s initial reaction was “disgraceful” and said the administration was inclined to “sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
Romney kept up his attack Wednesday morning at a news conference in Jacksonville, Fla.
“I think it’s a terrible course for America to stand an apology for our values,” he said. “An apology for America’s values is never the right course.”
Kyl, however, would apologize for — or seek to clarify — his remarks Wednesday evening, with a spokesman contending “the comments were meant to demonstrate that innocent victims of violence need never apologize to those committing the heinous acts of violence.”
Sen. John McCain, the other Republican senator from Arizona, had a notably different take than Romney, telling ABC News’ Jonathan Karl he thought Obama’s response to the Libya attack was “fine.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN
Eric Bradner, Shimon Prokupecz and Dan Merica, CNN