Hours after Thursday's vice presidential debate, former presidential candidate Newt Gingrich issued a harsh critique of Vice President Joe Biden's comments on Libya, which he said would "haunt" the Obama campaign going forward.
Gingrich, who appeared on "CBS This Morning" alongside Democratic former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, accused the Obama administration of knowingly misleading the American public with regard to the consulate attack in Libya, and argued that Biden continued to propagate falsehoods on the subject last night.
"Biden on Benghazi was so wrong last night it will haunt them," Gingrich told CTM hosts Norah O'Donnell and Charlie Rose. "The vice president of the United States doubled down on a president who for three weeks misled the American people ... The State Department said flatly this week [the violence] never related to the video, it was related to terrorism."
"As recently as last night the vice president of the United States misinformed the American people for, I presume, political purposes," he said.The administration's early characterizations of the Benghazi attack, which left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead, linked it to protests against an anti-Muslim film. United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice's comments five days after the violence, in which she said intelligence still indicated the attack was "spontaneous," have been roundly criticized by Republicans. Over the weeks, the administration has altered its assessment that the consulate attack was a "terrorist" act. Just this week, the State Department confirmed that there were no protests at all.
Granholm disputed Gingrich's claim that the administration intentionally misled the public, arguing that the intelligence out of Libya had been at first unclear.
"You just accused the president of lying to the American people," she said. "The intelligence was unclear. There's an investigation going on. There's no advantage for the administration to mislead the American people on something that's a tragedy like this."Both politicians, unsurprisingly, picked their party's VP candidate as the debate's winner, with Gingrich lauding Ryan as appearing "knowledgeable," "competent," and "capable," while Granholm contended Biden "clearly stopped the Romney momentum."
"Clearly Joe Biden speaks to real people. He has a heart for real people. He is impassioned. He was relatable," Granholm said. "He did what he had to do."
She denied that Biden could have come off as "rude," arguing that "he couldn't just let misstatements lie there," and pointed to his comments on taxes and the economy as "extremely effective."
Gingrich, meanwhile, said the GOP might have benefited more if the debate had centered over economic issues, but that Ryan "became real" to voters last night.
"I think each guy did what they had to do. Remember, Paul Ryan, this was his first big national moment," Gingrich said. "He was two years old when Biden became a U.S. Senator. Biden has a lifetime to become a national figure. Last night in 90 minutes, Paul Ryan, much more than just getting the nomination, he became somebody who became real. So Ryan is doing better. Biden is Biden."