Libya attacks made political: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney spar (+video)
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the Obama Administration's reaction to the attacks in Libya. President Obama retorted that Romney would, 'shoot first and aim later.'
Republican challenger Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama's administration on Wednesday of showing weakness in the face of tumultuous events that left four US diplomats dead in the Middle East and jolted the race for the White House. Obama retorted that his rival "seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later."Skip to next paragraph
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Even some Republicans questioned Romney's handling of the issue, calling it hasty. Top GOP leaders in Congress pointedly declined to endorse his criticism of the president.
Said Obama: "It's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts. And that you've thought through the ramifications before you make 'em."
Obama-the-political-candidate's unusually personal criticism, which came in an interview with CBS, stood in contrast to his appearance outside the White House earlier in the day. Then, he somberly mourned the deaths and announced the deployment of additional Marines at diplomatic posts overseas in his capacity as commander in chief.
The four diplomats were killed on Tuesday as protesters overran and burned the US Consulate in Benghazi. In a separate incident, the American Embassy in Cairo was breached by protesters, and the nation's flag was ripped down, although no deaths were reported there.
The political fallout came as US officials investigated whether the attack in Libya was a terrorist strike planned to mark the 11th anniversary of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Initial reports were that both the Libya and Egypt events had been motivated by anger over an amateur film made in the United States that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Either way, some Republicans joined Democrats in questioning Romney's decision to inject himself into the situation thousands of miles away with his critical statement Tuesday night.
He followed up with morning remarks in which he blasted the initial statement from the US Embassy in Cairo as disgraceful and "akin to apology."
He added, "It's never too early for the United States government to condemn attacks on Americans and to defend our values."
Appearing in Jacksonville, Fla., Romney quickly broadened his remarks to emphasize other disagreements he has with Obama on national security issues, citing "differences of opinion with regards to Israel and our policies there; with regards to Iran, with regards to Afghanistan, with regards to Syria."