The Rachel Maddow Show | September 13, 2012
>>> ohio senator rob portman did not get picked to be the republican party 's vice presidential nominee this year. his consolation prize , he's a top romney campaign surrogate. in this capacity, senator portman was asked today about the political fight that's happening here in the united states around the attacks on u.s. embassies over the last few days. watch what happened.
>> what happened in egypt, which was a statement from the u.s. government , the first statement that came out, and it said, at its start, we apologize. i think most americans, charlie, would look at that and say, gosh, that's not the appropriate response when your embassy is assaulted, your flag is taken down and islamic flags are put up over american territory and lives were in jeopardy.
>> senator, as you know, the statement from the u.s. embassy in cairo was issued before there were any attacks. they were issued because there was concern about protests. do you know that?
>> no, i was not aware that it was issued before there were any attacks.
>> even acknowledging there that he did not know what he was talking about. that he did not know that what mitt romney was accusing the u.s. embassy in cairo of was something that embassy did not do, even acknowledging that. senator rob portman went on to say mitt romney was right to make the accusation anyway. and that's been what day two of this story has been like. amazingly. the whole reason there are domestic politics in this story at all is because while the u.s. government was being physically attacked abroad, while the u.s. consulate in libya was under siege, before the attacks were over, while they were still happening, republican presidential candidate mitt romney put out a statement also attacking the u.s. embassy in cairo . there were already reports at that point that at least one american had been killed in benghazi. he referenced that in his statement. that did not stop him from attacking the other embassy, from waging a him attack at all. it did not give him pause maybe he should wait to find out more about what was happening before he spoke. not only did he not wait for more information, he did not wait for the attacks to stop before he added his own attack on the staff of the embassy in egypt. a crisis that would otherwise be seen as america under attack, this is no time for politics, instead became very much a time for politics when even mr. romney 's own party recoiled in horror at how badly he bungled this situation. a senior republican foreign policy strategist telling "buzzfeed" yesterday that the romney campaign was, quote, just trying to score a cheap news cycle hit and now it's just completely blown up. calling the romney campaign strategy a, quote, utter disaster and saying the romney campaign is, quote, incompetent at talking effectively about foreign policy . former top john mccain aide mark salter calling the attack unfair and hyperbolic in its timing. peggy noonan urging toward mr. romney toward cool words or no words in this crisis. the republican party decided overnight despite how mitt romney screwed this up, he is their candidate so they better get onboard with him? there was rob portman on the cbs morning show . i didn't know what i was saying was inaccurate, i stand by it anyway. then there was john mccain on the "today" show and john mccain again on msnbc this morning and republican congressman pete hoekstra and jon kyl with an amazingly off color analogy and george w. bush u.n. ambassador in the " washington post " and rumsfeld on twitter saying we're onboard with the way mitt romney is handling this which might make sense in terms of short-term strategy, in terms of trying to get their guy elected, right? but whether or not their guy is elected, all of these folks have now committed themselves and their reputations forever to siding with the guy whose campaign previewed a mitt romney presidency in which an american ambassador is murdered and an american embassy is attacked and the role of the u.s. president in that circumstance would be to rush to the microphones before the attack was even over and launch his same attack on that same u.s. embassy . you're on his side now. former "new york times" columnist bob herbert joins us next.