Romney Criticizes Anti-Islam Film, Backs off White House Slam

Mitt Romney ABC News - H 2012

Mitt Romney ABC News - H 2012

The Republican nominee for president recalibrates his position on the film that sparked riots in the Middle East.

After initially criticizing President Obama for "sympathizing" with protestors that rioted in Egypt and Libya over the mysterious, microbudget anti-Muslim film The Innocence of Islam, GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has condemned the filmmakers behind the project.

"I think it’s dispiriting sometimes to see some of the awful things people say," the former Massachusetts governor told George Stephanopolous on Good Morning America Friday. "And the idea of using something that some people consider sacred and then parading that out a negative way is simply inappropriate and wrong. And I wish people wouldn’t do it."

He added, "Of course, we have a First Amendment. And under the First Amendment, people are allowed to do what they feel they want to do. They have the right to do that, but it’s not right to do things that are of the nature of what was done by, apparently this film."

STORY: Protests at US Embassies Spread Throughout Middle East

Late Tuesday -- before four Americans, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed in Libya -- Romney blasted a statement put out by the US Embassy in Egypt that slammed the filmmakers for abusing free speech rights to insult Muslims. He linked Obama to that statement, and double down the next day, saying that the Embassy is an extension of the president's administration, even though the White House disavowed the consulate's unauthorized press release.

Later on Wednesday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also blasted the filmmakers' First Amendment abuse, but said it did not justify the protestors' violence.

In response to Romney's initial comments, Obama said that he tens to "shoot first and aim later."

Romney told GMA that he felt his statement was not unlike the White House's.

"Wat I said was exactly the same conclusion the White House reached, which was that the statement was inappropriate.  That’s why they backed away from it as well."

The White House has sent special marines to Yemen, and is working domestically to quell the outrage as well. They've reached out to Google to determine whether the video violates YouTube's terms of use.

STORY: Innocence of Islam Shot on Hollywood Set

Protests and riots have spread throughout the Middle East, with violence in Yemen, Jerusalem, Sudan and Lebanon, among other countries. The US Embassy in Tunisia was set on fire on Friday by protestors that had scaled the walls.

"It is in response to a video, a film, that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. "That in no way justifies any violent reaction to it, but this is not a case of protest directed at the United States writ large or at U.S. policy. This is in response to a video that is offensive and — to Muslims. Again, this is not in any way justifying violence. And we’ve spoken very clearly out against that and condemned it. And the president is making sure in his conversations with leaders around the region that they are committed, as hosts to diplomatic facilities, that — to protect both personnel and buildings and other facilities that are part of the U.S. representation in those countries.”