As Ed already recounted, President Obama’s 60 Minutes interview that aired last night is causing a wee bit of headache for the White House — his comments about four American deaths in Libya being a “bump in the road” and about Israel’s concerns over Iran being just “noise,” as you might imagine, haven’t been playing over too well. The Romney campaign quickly seized on the remarks as insensitive and inappropriate, via WaPo:
“His indication that developments in the Middle East represent bumps in the road is a very different view than I have,” the Republican candidate told ABC News. “I can’t imagine saying something like the assassination of ambassadors is a bump in the road.”
Romney gave a similar comment to NBC News. “There are extraordinary events going on in the Middle East and considering those events, either one of them or all of them collectively, as bumps in the road shows a person who has a very different perspective about world affairs [than] the perspective I have,” he said.
Shortly after the interviews, while speaking to a crowd in Pueblo, Colo., Romney declared, “These are not bumps in the road, these are human lives.”
But during the White House briefing today, Press Secretary Jay Carney went on the offensive rather than try to walk the President’s comments back, via MRCTV:
The president was referring to the transformations in the region. There is a certain rather desperate attempt to grasp at words and phrases here to find political advantage. And in this case, that’s profoundly offensive.
Of course people are going to grasp at phrases to find a political advantage — we’re in the middle of a neck-and-neck presidential election cycle, and besides, I’m sure Team Obama wouldn’t know anything about grasping at their opponents’ words to try and garner political advantage, would they? But words are also powerful things, and if I were on the president’s PR team, I would really recommend that he look for a different description for violence in the Middle East; not only does it make these things sound more trivial, but I can’t help thinking that what he really means is that these “bumps” are roughening the road toward his reelection more than any other ostensible goal.