{{show_title_date || "Graham: Benghazi is ‘security breakdown’ at every level, 10/21/12, 8:00 PM ET"}}

GOP senator to Romney: Don’t be like Bush or Obama


As the presidential candidates prepare for Monday’s final debate on foreign policy, a leading GOP senator is warning his own party’s nominee to avoid sounding and acting like either the 43rd or 44th president.

Senator Lindsey Graham told NBC’s Chuck Todd that Mitt Romney should tout a strategic foreign policy.

“Learn from Bush’s mistakes, don’t oversell to the American people,” he said. “There’s a disconnect between the narrative that President Obama’s giving about the world in large and the reality. Very similar to what happened in Iraq.” He reiterated once again, “learn from Bush’s mistakes” and added “learn from Obama’s mistakes. Be smart. Listen to your commanders.”

Both presidential candidates are expected to clash over Libya once again, after last week’s heated exchange over the  September 11, 2012 attack in Benghazi.  At the last debate, Mitt Romney drew sustained criticism after arguing that the president failed to declare the Benghazi attack as terrorist-related during his immediate response. In fact the president condemned “acts of terror” in his initial statement, but his administration later suggested the attack grew out of street protests against an anti-Muslim video.

On Sunday, GOP Sen. Marco Rubio reiterated the Romney camp’s claims that the Obama administration shifted its stance on the nature of the attack continually and its explanation was not coherent for days.

In contrast, the Washington Post revealed last week that an intelligence report on the assessment of the attack, conducted by the CIA four days after the incident, tracked closely to the public statements of UN Ambassador Susan Rice:

 ”The currently available information suggests that the demonstrations in Benghazi were spontaneously inspired by the protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo and evolved into a direct assault against the U.S. Consulate…”

Sen. Graham, an outspoken critic of  the administration’s leadership following the attack, told Chuck Todd that members of the Senate Intelligence Committee were briefed on the situation only after Rice spoke to the media.

Graham, who is a member of the Senate armed services committee, disagreed with the Washington Post report saying, “Benghazi was in the hands of al-Qaida between April and September in larger measure. The reports coming out of Benghazi were that security footprints were deteriorating. The British left, the Red Cross left. They didn’t leave because of a video, they left because of insurgents and militia taking over Benghazi.”

Todd asked Graham about the lessons learned from Arab Spring and the attack in Benghazi and whether they can be applied to other nations such as Syria.

Graham said these Arab nations in question, must “provide capacity to those who have the will to fight terrorism in their own backyard. Arm the right people.”

GOP senator to Romney: Don't be like Bush or Obama