Top Republicans are starting to weigh in on Muammar Qaddafi's death and one consistent theme is quickly emerging: Barack who?
Mitt Romney, appearing on a radio program in Iowa, said it couldn't come soon enough.
"I have seen those reports and if accurate I think the response is it's about time," he said. "This was a tyrant who has been killing his own people and of course is responsible for the lives of American citizens lost in the Lockerbie attack….I think people across the world recognize that the world is a better place without Muammar Qaddafi."
Romney's analysis of the Libya conflict has been nuanced. Back before the Arab Spring, Romney cited comments from Qaddafi praising Obama as evidence the president was weak on dictators. After operations against Qaddafi's forces began in March, he announced his support for the intervention but later warned of "mission creep" and criticized President Obama for demanding the dictator's ouster. "Now the president is saying we have to remove Qaddafi," he said in New Hampshire in July. "Who's going to own Libya if we get rid of the government there?"
In an e-mail to Politico's Ben Smith, Romney spokesman Eric Fehrnstrom clarified Romney's position and made absolutely clear that Obama did not deserve credit for Thursday's news.
"Mitt Romney has responded to the situation in Libya as it has developed," he said. "It is the president who has been completely unclear regarding what his intention was with respect to our military's involvement in Libya."
He added: "Mitt Romney supported the initial humanitarian mission-as articulated by President Obama-to enforce a no-fly zone. As the mission went on, however, it became clear that President Obama had no idea about his intentions in Libya and that's when Mitt warned against mission muddle and mission creep. The fall from power and subsequent death of Qaddafi brings to end a brutal chapter in Libya's history-but that does not validate the president's approach to Libya. The credit goes to the people of Libya."
Rick Perry hailed Qaddafi's death, but also left out any mention of the president's decision to attack the dictator's forces from his comments.
"The death of Muammar el-Qaddafi is good news for the people of Libya," he said in a statement. "It should bring the end of conflict there, and help them move closer to elections and a real democracy. The United States should work closely with Libya to ensure the transition is successful, and that a stable, peaceful nation emerges. The U.S. must also take an active role in ensuring the security of any remaining stockpiles of Qaddafi's weapons. These weapons pose a real danger to the United States and our allies, and we cannot help secure them through simple observation."
One prominent Republican went out of the way to give Europe credit instead. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) told FOX News "Today's not a day to point fingers" when asked about America's role in Qaddafi's death, before saying France and England were really the ones responsible for deposing the dictator. He later issued a statement thanking "American and NATO forces" for the victory.
Republished with permission from TalkingPointsMemo.com. Authored by Benjy Sarlin. Photo via AP. TPM provides breaking news, investigative reporting and smart analysis of politics.