Huntsman: Romney's Reaction to Arab Protests a 'Problem'

Matt Vasilogambros

Former U.S. Ambassador to China and presidential candidate Jon Huntsman said on Friday that Mitt Romney’s response to the violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa posed a “problem” for the man he endorsed several months ago.

As protests raged outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya earlier this week left four Americans dead, Romney’s decision to criticize the Obama administration was ill-advised and was a lost opportunity, Huntsman said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

“This was an opportunity to instruct, to elucidate, to educate, to talk about how you put the pieces back together again in North Africa and the Middle East,” he said. “Not to condemn, not to criticize, not to turn it into a political event, but to explain to the American people what we're going to do during a time of need, during a time of crisis, during a time of uncertainty.”

In a time where relations between the U.S. and the Arab world is strained, and questions surrounding the broader implications of the Arab Springs are prevalent, Huntsman said that Romney should have explained his position on the democratic uprisings of late.

“I don't know what Governor Romney is proposing at this point,” Huntsman said.

While protests were still taking place outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, where protesters breached the compound, Romney went after President Obama for what he called “apologizing” for the U.S. The Romney campaign cited a statement by the embassy that condemned religious intolerance.

The Romney campaign, however, has received some backlash since their attacks on the Obama administration after news broke of the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi.

Obama has pledged to “bring those who killed our fellow Americans to justice.” On Friday, Huntsman praised the president for his actions in the wake of the tragedy overseas.

“The president has said that he will go after those who killed our American diplomats abroad,” Huntsman said. “I think these are things that all Americans can rally around.”

Although Huntsman cautioned that as a “failed candidate,” he was “not in a position to offer advice to anybody,” he said the Romney campaign must show the “heart and soul of the candidate” in order to rebound from this week.