Consider this a warm-up for the next presidential debate, which will focus on foreign policy. Last night on Hannity, host Sean Hannity asked whether Mitt Romney thought that the weeks-long string of lies and half-truths coming from the White House about the attack on Benghazi had revealed a plot to cover up the truth — that terrorists has successfully attacked an American diplomatic mission for the first time in 14 years. Romney didn’t quite embrace the “cover-up” term, but he hammered Barack Obama for not admitting the obvious, and for abandoning the transparency Obama claims to cherish:
HANNITY: I know this was not about foreign policy last night, ah, we have been following very closely on this program the issue in Benghazi, the death of our ambassador, the first time in 30 years, two Navy SEALs. Do you believe there’s a cover-up going on?
ROMNEY: Well, Sean, first let me note my — my condolences and sympathies for the families of those who lost their lives, and my respect for those who fought so bravely for us. Those two SEALs who were there on a private assignment, they weren’t working for the government in an official capacity at the time this occurred, I just, ah, I think so much of them. I – I believe what happened there was obviously a tragic failure. There had been warnings of a possible attack; there were requests on the part of our commission there, of our diplomats there rather, to have additional security forces. They were turned down.
And then following the tragedy, we saw, well, misleading information coming from the administration. In fact, the President didn’t acknowledge this was a terrorist act for, what — a week or two? I mean, this was a terrorist attack, lives were lost, this happened on 9/11. We expect candor and transparency from the President, from the administration — and we didn’t get it.
Romney gets support for this position this morning in the influential New Hampshire newspaper, the Union-Leader. Their lead editorial accuses Obama of having “hid the truth” on Libya, and says the obvious conclusion is that Obama intended to deceive America about the nature of the attack:
There is no other conclusion but that President Obama deliberately deceived the American people to hide the fact that the nation had suffered a terrorist attack on his watch.
Indeed. And that’s the perception that Americans will have in mind during that foreign policy debate in less than two weeks.