Reporter: Blame Benghazi for Obama's Debate Fail

Prez was preoccupied, says Michael Hastings

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 16, 2013 2:10 PM CST

(Newser) – Michael Hastings, the Rolling Stone reporter best known for his article that led to Gen. Stanley McChrystal's resignation, says he knows why President Obama performed so poorly in his first debate against Mitt Romney: Benghazi. Hastings, who has been researching for a book on the 2012 election, tells the Huffington Post that Obama was distracted by duties related to Benghazi while he was supposed to be preparing for the debate:

  • "This has never been reported before, but it’s in the book: One of the president’s debate prep sessions, when he was supposed to be preparing for this, was the day that the bodies of the four victims in Benghazi came back to Andrews Air Force Base. So, he literally gave a speech about Benghazi, met the families of these victims from like 1 to 4pm, and then goes and tries to focus on getting ready to argue with Mitt Romney over tax policy."
Hastings concedes that other factors, including Obama's overconfidence, contributed to his performance. But, Mediaite notes, the bodies of the Americans killed in Benghazi arrived in the US 19 days before the debate, and previous reports have indicated the president took the time to watch some football on the Sunday before the debate.

President Barack Obama speaks during the first presidential debate with Mitt Romney at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver.
President Barack Obama speaks during the first presidential debate with Mitt Romney at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver.   (AP Photo/David Goldman)
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Michael Hastings discusses the debate.   (Huffington Post)

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