During Tuesday's post-debate coverage on CNN, as the panel discussed moderator Candy Crowley giving cover to President Obama's attempt to defend his initial flawed response to the Benghazi terrorist attack, CNN correspondent John King blamed former Governor Mitt Romney for giving Crowley the opening to undermine the GOP candidate's criticism of Obama for taking so long to recognize that the attack was a premeditated act of terrorism.
Shortly before 11:30 p.m., CNN anchor Anderson Cooper had raised the subject as he defended Romney's reasoning and suggested that Obama was taking himself out of context to cover his own tracks. Cooper:
You know, this whole "acts of terror" thing, I don't think it is as clear a slam dunk as the Obama campaign would like it to be. I mean, in his speech, he wasn't saying this was an act of terror. Previous to the paragraph where he said "acts of terror," he had been talking about 9/11 and, obviously, the killing of four Americans. He did reference that video, in partcular, but I do think it's open to debate. I can see why the Romney campaign is quibbling about it.
King blamed the confusion on Romney as he responded:
By mis-speaking about what exactly the President said the day after, Governor Romney has now, he's in this fact-check environment where this should be a problem for the President, this should not be a problem for what Governor Romney said in a debate Because he was wrong about the President did generically refer to an act of terror the day after, we are correcting, Candy corrected Governor Romney on the spot, and so we're having a question of, "Well, what did Romney say?" as opposed to "What did the administration do?" So Governor Romney's choice of words there was a poor one. And so he's being fact-checked, and that takes something away from him.
He went on to dismiss the issue as unimportant to voters:
I would make this argument. This is going to be done in studios like this in Washington and New York, and we're going to talk about it. Are undecided voters out there in the country, that small slice of undecided voters who are in a battleground state going to make their decision based on what happened in Libya or based on who they think has the better economic plan, I vote the latter.
CNN senior political analyst David Gergen then bolstered King and Crowley. Gergen:
I totally agree. I mean, this is a murky situation. I think Candy had it right. Romney clearly got it wrong on one fact, but there's the bigger story, but surely we're not going to spend a lot of time on, you know, trying to litigate this when you've got so much bigger issues.
Cooper then brought Crowley back to discuss the issue, as previously documented by NewsBusters.