The Obama administration’s talking points on the terror attack in Benghazi had no bearing on Mitt Romney’s defeat last year, the former Republican presidential nominee told Jay Leno.
The administration initially held that the attack was a result of a local protest over an anti-Muslim Internet video that spun violently out of control. Officials later assessed that it was a terror attack coordinated by terrorists with ties to al Qaeda.
Republicans have blasted the administration for this change in narrative, accusing top officials of initially misleading the public in an attempt to protect Obama’s foreign policy record of protecting American interests abroad.
The attacks occurred less than two months before Obama and Romney faced off at the polls. And less than one month later, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) held a rare hearing while Congress was in recess that Democrats contended was pure politics at play.
But on Friday, Leno asked Romney whether he believes he might have beaten Obama in the November election if the initial narrative from the administration on the motive behind the attacks had been attributed to terrorism instead of a protest.
“I don’t think it would have changed the election,” said Romney.
Romney added that he doesn’t spend a lot of time reflecting on what could have been done differently during his campaign, although he said he wishes the outcome had been different.
“I don’t go back and look at: ‘Gee, if this would have happened differently, could I have won?’” Romney said. “I wish I had won. I wish I was there now.”
Republicans have keyed in on the administration’s talking points over the Benghazi attack and how they were developed before U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice went on Sunday news talk shows attributing the attack to an out-of-control protest.
According to a batch of 100 emails the administration released this week, the CIA led the push to drop al Qaeda references from the talking points, stating that it was not entirely clear yet who was behind the attack.
Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz (Utah), one of Issa’s lieutenants and a lead congressional investigator on Benghazi, told reporters afterward that he was not convinced the CIA could take all of the responsibility for the talking points and said the Oversight panel plans on talking with former CIA head Petraeus about his role in crafting them.