President Obama wasn’t making any apologies for a so-called “apology tour” GOP contender Mitt Romney accused him of taking in the early days of his presidency.
Romney, in one of the most contentious parts of Monday night’s final presidential debate, accused Obama of showing weakness all around the world when he traveled across the Middle East on his tour, and said the president traveled to apologize for the United States.
His claims are nothing new among Republicans, but Obama called Romney’s claims “probably the biggest whopper” uttered during the campaign, and insisted there were never apologies made when he met with world leaders.
1. Romney said Obama Projected his Weakness to Iraq
Romney, responding to a question from moderator Bob Schieffer about Iran’s nuclear program, said that country first detected Obama’s weakness back in 2008, when he said in a presidential debate then that he wanted to meet with the leaders of Cuba, Iran and Venezuela, who Romney calls “all the world’s worst actors.”
I think they looked and thought, well, that’s an unusual honor to receive from the president of the United States. And then the president began what I’ve called an apology tour of going to nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.
2. Obama Calls Romney’s Claims of Apologies a “Whopper”
Romney claimed Obama failed to give Iranian protesters support, making the country’s rulers and mullahs decide they could keep seeking nuclear weapons.
A visibly annoyed Obama portrayed Romney’s claims as lies.
Nothing Gov. Romney just said is true, starting with this notion of me apologizing. This has been probably the biggest whopper that’s been told during the course of this campaign.
3. Romney’s Claims are Commonly Held Ones
Several top Republicans, including Romney, Donald Rumsfeld and others, take it on faith that Obama is always apologizing for the United States, and that he doesn’t believe in the country’s greatness. It all feeds off the ongoing belief – which has been disproven many times – that Obama isn’t an American citizen, but a “citizen of the world” because of his white American mother and his African father.
4. Republicans Complain Obama Skipped Israel on his Travels
Mr. President, the reason I call it an apology tour is because you went to the Middle East and you flew to Egypt and to Saudi Arabia and to Turkey and Iraq,” he said. “And by the way, you skipped Israel, our closest friend in the region, but you went to the other nations. And, by the way, they noticed that you skipped Israel. And then in those nations and on Arabic TV you said that America had been dismissive and derisive. You said that on occasion America had dictated to other nations.
5. Obama Slammed That Claim by Recalling a trip to Israel
The president traveled to Israel during his 2008 campaign, and said his trip there was far different than a campaign fundraiser Romney took this year to Jerusalem.
“When I went to Israel as a candidate, I didn’t take donors. I didn’t attend fundraisers. I went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum there, to remind myself of the nature of evil and why our bond with Israel will be unbreakable.”
Obama, in an emotional voice, also talked about his trip to Israeli border town Sderot, which was destroyed by Hamas missiles.
I saw families there who showed me where missiles had come down near their children’s bedrooms, and I was reminded of what that would mean if those were my kids, which is why, as president, we funded an ‘Iron Dome’ program to stop those missiles. So that’s how I’ve used my travels when I travel to Israel and when I travel to the region.
6. Critics Say Obama Doesn’t Believe America is Exceptional
In April 2009, Obama made a statement to a British reporter who asked him if he thought the United States is qualified to leade the world. He answered, “I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.” But Romney wrote in his book that Obama’s statements were “another way of saying he doesn’t believe it all.”
However, the rest of Obama’s answer wasn’t widely quoted.
“I’m enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world.” Obama continued: “If you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional.”
7. Obama Was Drawing Lines
Obama, as a newly elected president, worked hard during his first couple years in office to draw a distinction between him and George W. Bush. However, some of the statements he made on foreign policy were not apologies, but echoed some other opinions. For example, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who ran and lost against Obama, also thought the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, should be closed.
8. Fact Checkers All Over Have Ruled Out “Apology Tour” Claims
The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler calls Romney’s claims that Obama’s policies in the Middle East began with an apology tour as being incorrect and said the claim has been disproven time and time again.
This Four-Pinocchio claim rears its head again. Readers can refer back to our lengthy look at this issue back in early 2011. The apology tour never happened.
9. The Apology Tour Will Come up Again
Obama and Romney are neck and neck in the race, so it’s likely Romney will continue to insist Obama goes around apologizing for the United States, no matter how many political factcheckers have offered proof that it didn’t happen.
10. Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word
An apology may not always include the words “I’m sorry,” and Romney insists the “Apology Tour” has hit a lot of stops:
In his first nine months in office, President Obama has issued apologies and criticisms of America in speeches in France, England, Turkey, and Cairo; at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the United Nations in New York City. He has apologized for what he deems to be American arrogance, dismissiveness, and derision; for dictating solutions, for acting unilaterally, and for acting without regard for others; for treating other countries as mere proxies, for unjustly interfering in the internal affairs of other nations, and for feeding anti-Muslim sentiments; for committing torture, for dragging our feet on global warming and for selectively promoting democracy.