A number of readers have either posted in the comment section beneath my piece on The Candy Crowley Tipping Point or written to me about this exchange from the debate the other night. (The controversial part in bold.)
Romney: I want to make sure we get that for the record, because it took the President 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.
Obama: Get the transcript.
Crowley: He did, in fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word–
Obama: Can you say that a little louder, Candy? (Applause.)
Crowley: He did call it an act of terror. It did, as well, take–it did, as well, take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that. (Applause.)
In other words, the question is being raised as to why, of all the material Crowley could possibly have had in front of her that night, Candy Crowley had the transcript from the Rose Garden Benghazi statement — and Obama seemed to know that. Did she actually have the transcript right there? Did the President know that ahead of time? Or was she recalling what she (mistakenly) thought she knew from memory?
Crowley’s on-the-record comments thus far on the debate topic include this:
“Well, you know, again, I’d heard the president’s speech at the time. I sort of re-read a lot of stuff about Libya because I knew we’d probably get a Libya question, so I kind of wanted to be up on it. So we knew that the president had, had said, you know, these acts of terrors [sic] won’t stand or whatever the whole quote was and I think actually, you know, because, right after that I did turn around and say but you are totally correct, that they spent two weeks telling us that this was about a tape and that there was a, you know, this riot right outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn’t. So he was right in the main but I just think he picked the wrong word.”
That’s all that’s been said thus far. Did she actually have a copy right in front of her? Hard to tell whether she had notes on the subject or the actual transcript. In any event, she certainly gave the impression that she might have a copy of the transcript with her when she responded to Obama’s command and said to Romney:
“He did, in fact, sir. So let me call it an act of terror in the Rose Garden. He used the word…”
Remembering that Crowley herself picked the questions to be asked of each candidate, and that she knew ahead of time audience member Kerry Ladka would be asking about Benghazi, it is reasonable to believe she had the transcript in front of her for reference in case it came up.
Did she at any point say to some Obama staffer something along the lines of “Oh by the way, I have the transcript of the Rose Garden statement on Benghazi with me for the debate”?
She hasn’t said.
But suffice to say, there are a lot of people raising the question of behind-the-scenes coordination — all stemming from Obama’s instruction (and it certainly sounded like an instruction) to “Get the transcript.” Followed instantly by Crowley complying — and silencing Romney on the topic. When Romney was indeed correct.
We report. You decide.
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