(via The moment when Romney lost)
The question came towards the end of last night’s debate, and Republicans were no doubt thrilled. After an event featuring questions Democrats enjoyed — equal pay for women, outsourcing, Bush comparisons — an undecided voter finally brought up an issue the right has been desperate to talk about: the attack in Benghazi that left four Americans dead.
But after weeks of teeing this up as a devastating issue for President Obama, Mitt Romney blew it. It was, as Rachel noted last night, a “political disaster” for the Republican.
As the moment unfolded live, it was obvious Romney thought he’d finally found a brutal new criticism. The Republican began by accusing the president on Sept. 12 of flying “to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser” — that wasn’t true; there was no such fundraiser — instead of addressing the attack. Obama responded, “The day after the attack, Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told the American people and the world that we are going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror.”
Romney hadn’t done his homework, and didn’t realize that the president was telling the truth. He thought he’d tripped Obama up, but even moderator Candy Crowley felt compelled to fact-check Romney in real time: “He did call it an ‘act of terror.’”
Romney tried to exploit the deaths of Americans for partisan gain the night of Sept. 11, and then he tried to do it again in last night’s debate. The president, displaying more passion than we’re accustomed to seeing, was determined to make the Republican pay a price for this, and he did. Romney ended up looking small, with even less credibility on foreign policy than he did before.