Romney criticizes Obama's early response to Egypt embassy attack

By Ben Feller

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, Sept. 12 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

Republican Mitt Romney slammed the Obama administration's handling of foreign affairs in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya.

Associated Press

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Republican Mitt Romney slammed the Obama administration's handling of foreign affairs in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya.

Romney branded the administration's early response to the attacks as "disgraceful," in a statement the former Massachusetts governor released before confirmation that the American ambassador had been killed.

U.S. ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three American members of his staff were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in the eastern city of Benghazi. Libyan officials said the attack was carried out by protesters angry over a film that ridiculed Islam's Prophet Muhammed.

President Barack Obama, in a statement Wednesday morning, strongly condemned "this outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi." He said he has directed administration officials "to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe."

Romney was expected to address the killings during comments in Jacksonville, Fla., Wednesday morning.

His initial statement, released hours before Obama's, said the administration's early response to the attacks seemed to sympathize with the attackers.

The U.S. Embassy in Cairo had issued a statement saying, in part, that it condemns "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." The statement, an apparent reference to the video, was posted hours before the Americans' death in Libya was reported.

Romney said he was outraged by the attacks. He added, "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in a statement released at about the same time as Romney's, condemned the attack in Libya "in the strongest terms."

Tuesday's pause for Sept. 11 remembrances of the 9/11 attacks had the two campaigns essentially in a stand-down mode. But with the dawn of a new day — and the violence half a world away — the political landscape at home was again wide open to negative ads and fierce statements, as the candidates were spreading out from Florida to Ohio to Nevada.

In a campaign speech and a new TV ad, Obama was accusing Romney of failing to explain how he would pay for trillions of dollars in tax cuts.

Eying the possible electoral paths to victory, both campaigns are jockeying more in Wisconsin, a state that has long swung to Democrats in presidential elections.

Romney, in the midst of a campaign week that has slingshot him across the nation, was holding one event Wednesday — at his own campaign office in Jacksonville, Fla. He was expected to make the case that the nation's debt is undermining job creation and economic growth.

Obama was heading west, to Nevada, where he planned to hit Romney and vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan with charges of secrecy. The Obama campaign says the two Republicans are refusing to tell voters how they could pay for tax cuts that disproportionately help the wealthy without having to gut deductions for middle-class taxpayers.

An Obama campaign ad making that point will start running in Iowa, Virginia, Nevada and Ohio. Those four states, plus Florida, New Hampshire and Colorado, continue to draw the most campaign time and money, with others states looming on the margins as possible toss-ups.

One of those is Wisconsin, home state of the Republican lawmaker Ryan, who will be holding a town hall in Green Bay, Wis., on Wednesday as the race in the state appears to tighten. For the first time, Obama's campaign was airing TV ads in Wisconsin, starting Wednesday. They come after Romney started running his own spots there Sunday.

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