Romney on those gaffes

How Mitt Romney defended his debate-night flubs.

By Michael Scherer
June 9, 2007 4:20AM (UTC)
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In the first minutes of Tuesday's debate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney claimed that the war in Iraq was the fault of Saddam Hussein. Specifically, Romney said that the war could have been averted if Hussein had "opened up his country" to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Liberal critics like CNN's Paul Begala, Kevin Drum and Media Matters immediately jumped on this claim, calling it a major gaffe. As you may remember, Hussein did allow inspectors to come back into Iraq in 2002. By the time the war began, the IAEA was asking for more time to finish the inspections. The issue, at that point, was not whether inspectors could come to Iraq, but whether the Iraqis had shown inspectors all the possible locations for weapons of mass destruction.

On Wednesday, Romney was asked to expand on his remarks about Hussein at an "Ask Mitt Anything" town hall in Manchester, N.H. The candidate stuck to his guns, again blaming Hussein's resistance to IAEA inspections for the invasion. "It was his choice not to allow the kind of inspections that would have communicated to the world that there were not weapons of mass destruction," he said. "And that was an error, obviously an error that was very costly."


I shot video of the exchange below. It runs about two minutes. Apologies in advance for my camerawork. Some Romney aides blocked the shot mid-answer, and I tried to compensate by moving the camera around. In journalism, there are two types of people, lenses and pencils. I am a pencil.

Michael Scherer

Michael Scherer is Salon's Washington correspondent. Read his other articles here.

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