In Chris Matthews's view, Mitt Romney's bumbling response to the crisis in Libya showed just how "desperate" the former Massachusetts governor is to "secure political advantage."
The Republican presidential nominee was skewered by the Hardball host for jumping the gun in his reaction to the attacks, in which the U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed amid riots over a YouTube clip that mocked Islam's Prophet Mohammad.
As the film, reportedly made by an Israeli-American living in California, began fueling outrage throughout the Arab world on Tuesday, the U.S. embassy in Cairo put out a statement—not cleared by Washington—condemning the "continuing efforts by misguided individuals" to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.
Romney's campaign issued a statement Tuesday night calling it "disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
But Romney was wrong. The embassy's statement had come at a time when no embassies had yet been attacked. Only after that statement was released did rioters storm the U.S. Embassy in both Benghazi, Libya, and Cairo, Egypt.
Several hours later, news broke that Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans had been killed in the attacks.
Romney then held a press event Wednesday morning doubling down on his factually-challenged criticism of the president.
The Huffington Post's Howard Fineman agreed with Matthews. "He got the facts wrong," Fineman said. Romney got "discredited for having jumped in too fast and he doesn't' have the friends in politics to defend him."
High-profile Republicans like John McCain and others in the GOP establishment have not defended Romney. Time's Mark Halperin, who earlier in the day called the Republican's actions "craven and ill-advised," said on Hardball that "if [Romney] has good points to make about how this shows a failure of the president's leadership, let him make it in a day or two, not when [the country] is in the midst of a crisis, when the country should be coming together to address a still volatile situation."
President Obama told CBS on Wednesday that Romney's response exemplifies his "tendency to shoot first and aim later." When asked if he felt Romney's actions were irresponsible, Obama responded: "I'll let the American people judge that."