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Romney and the 'lawyer test'

From NBC's Mark Murray and NBC/NJ's Erin McPike
Earlier this morning, we focused on Romney's response at yesterday's debate that he would consult attorneys before deciding whether to unilaterally go after Iran's nuclear facility. But his campaign today stresses that it's important to consider his full response -- in which he said that the president "has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat."

MATTHEWS: Governor Romney, that raises the question, if you were president
of the United States, would you need to go to Congress to get authorization to take military action against Iran's nuclear facilities?

ROMNEY: You sit down with your attorneys and tell you want you have to do, but obviously the president of the United States has to do what's in the best interest of the United States to protect us against a potential threat. The president did that as he was planning on moving into Iraq and received the authorization of Congress...

But the full context of Romney's remarks isn't stopping his rivals from piling on. The Giuliani campaign just issued a press release highlighting Romney's "Lawyer's Test" for national security -- which the release compared to John Kerry's 2004 "Global Test" remark (which Democrats will point out was taken out of context in that election). "Going to war is the most serious decision a president can make. Lawyers should not debate while our national security is on the line. In these momentous decisions, we need leadership, not litigation," retired Admiral Robert J. Natter, who is serving as a senior military adviser for the Giuliani campaign, said in the release.

Two minutes after Giuliani's team circulated that press release, the Romney camp issued a lengthy release containing the candidate's previous public statements on the Iranian threat.