Mitt: Hostage Situations Are Electoral “Opportunities”

MoJo has released the full Romney donor video. And like Josh Marshall, I was immediately struck by this passage (after 3 minutes in–this is my transcription). This is in response to a donor suggesting that if Mitt could get the Iranians to agree to drop their pursuit of a nuclear bomb.

And the American people are not concentrated at all on China, on Russia, Iran, Iraq. This President’s failure to put in a place a Status of Forces Agreement allowing 10-20,000 troops to stay in Iraq–unthinkable. And yet in that election–in the Jimmy Carter election–the fact that we had hostages in Iran, I mean that was all we talked about then. And we had the two helicopters crash in the desert, that was the focus and so him solving that made all the difference in the world.

I’m afraid today if you simply got Iran to agree to stand down a nuclear weapon they’d go, “hold on.”

By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity. [my emphasis]

Now, like Marshall, I think this explains why Mitt jumped on the Libyan attack so quickly.

Though there’s even more here. Mitt seems to suggest that Reagan solved the Iranian hostage crisis. That’s an allegation that has been made, but it’s not something that people like Mitt discuss in public.

And consider how MoJo came to publish this entire video: James Carter IV–Jimmy’s grandson–helped track the video down. He specifically mentioned Mitt’s attacks on his grandfather as part of his motivation.

But Carter also confirmed there is a personal side to the backstory of the campaign video: he was especially motivated, he said, because of Romney’s frequent attacks on the presidency of his grandfather, including the GOP candidate’s comparisons to the “weak” foreign policy of Carter and Barack Obama.

“It gets under my skin — mostly the weakness on the foreign policy stuff,” Carter said. “I just think it’s ridiculous. I don’t like criticism of my family.”

This passage certainly sounded like very calculated criticism of the Carter family.

I suggested in June that Sheldon Adelson was probably willing to dump so much on Mitt’s campaign, after working so hard to defeat him in the primary, to purchase an Administration that would serve Likud’s interests. I even reflected on what a nice October Surprise Adelson’s money could buy.

Rest assured, if Adelson were to present Romney with such a surprise, Romney would be waiting to take advantage of it.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

14 replies
  1. OrionATL says:

    obama’s involvement in two wars and three civil wars (libya, yemen, syria) represents a “weak” foreign policy?

    by republican standards?

    the only foreign policy republicans think worth the name involves war or threat of war.

    no wonder wilber had to go all the way back to the foreign politics of the 50’s thru the 80’s and use republican attacks on president carter as a stalking horse for his “weak on defense” attack.

    god forbid wilbur would lead us to a “stronger” foreign policy than president obama has.

  2. OrionATL says:

    we may be seeing here a preview of the core of romney’s foreign policy critique of obama from now until election day – all iran, all the time, wmd’s, mushroom clouds, missle defense.

  3. Jessica says:

    I think you’re right. President Obama has done everything a republican president would, save bombing Iran. And even on Iran, this adminstration sends mixed signals. “We won’t back an Israeli strike” but “there’s no daylight between Netanyahu and the US”, to name the most recent. I’m certain that an R would be terrible on foreign policy, but Obama has been terrifying, as well. That he’s ‘not as bad’ is little consolation, considering how bad it’s been.

  4. joberly says:

    EW–earlier in the video, at about the 3:00 minute mark, a doner/diner person asked a question about strength in foreign policy. The person referred to the January 20, 1981 freeing of the hostages as Reagan’s doing–on that very day, by supposedly giving the Iranians “four minutes” to free them, or else. That’s not the October Surprise, but rather a rewriting of history to the effect that the Iranians so feared Reagan that they freed the hostages rather than risk getting bombed. You quote Romney’s answer which seems to affirm the Reagan nostalgia: “and so him solving that made all the difference in the world.” Mitt’s next line, purportedly voicing Obama’s thoughts, was that even if the Iranians “stand down” on their bomb, the Obama Administration would still want to keep talking, hence: “hold on.” Mitt, by contrast, would be ready to keep them to their word, or so I think he said.

  5. prostratedragon says:

    Ought he really to be hinting in public at how thin their playbook is? All but crying out openly his exasperation with turbulent embassies and such?

    I mean, should anything off-color happen between now and November it will now be much easier to look questioningly in their direction without first doing the foil origami thing.

    But then I forget, Mitt thought he was speaking only within one of those Quiet Rooms of his.

  6. jo6pac says:

    if Adelson were to present Romney with such a surprise.

    I wonder if the fbi is listening in and if so would this be Treason? Then again LBJ had tricky dick by the balls and didn’t anything about.

    Thanks EW for finding out who and Thanks Jimmy IV hell of a job and to bad kos banned him since they had it first, makes laugh.

  7. JamesJoyce says:

    Noting how US/GB where quite successful in using “money” to topple a legitimate government via “ajax,” I find this timing “tingly,” and get these faint “whiffs,” of a dead rat. Lots of things don’t make sense here until one begin to focus after cleaning tainted lens?

  8. OrionATL says:


    but i simply cannot recommend too much this article on the person who is barrack obama:

    this is the first time i have read anything credible that suggested just how this president’s mind may work, especially on moral issues.

    it also addresses a matter i have long wondered about – how does a president deal with the pressure of multiple issues coming at you day-after-day, week-after-week.

  9. Ziggy says:

    op·por·tun·ist (pr-tnst, -ty-)
    One who takes advantage of any opportunity to achieve an end, often with no regard for principles or consequences.

  10. klynn says:

    The hostage crisis, timing of the taking of hostages and timing of the release has bothered me for a very long time. And now, Romney confirms my concerns.

    “By the way, if something of that nature presents itself, I will work to find a way to take advantage of the opportunity.”

    (wink, wink)

    Seriously? Suggesting an act of terrorism against US citizens funded by US citizens? For the sake of winning an election?

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