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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Obama Speaks of Libya Attack at Rally in Las Vegas


LAS VEGAS â€" President Obama began what was supposed to be a boisterous campaign rally here Wednesday before his most ardent group of supporters with a somber remembrance of the four Americans who were killed at the United States Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, on Tuesday.

Mr. Obama was met with deafening cheers and whistles when he took the lectern, meeting a crowd that was primed to give him the rally that was planned, with chants of “Four more years'' stopping him before he could begin his address.

He had to speak above shouts of “I love you'' to say, “We lost four Americans last night.” And with the crowd finally hushed, he asked to send “heartfelt prayers to their loved ones.''

< p>“We want to send a message all around the world,'' Mr. Obama said. “No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America.”

Mr. Obama reiterated his intention to punish those responsible, saying, “We will be relentless in our pursuit of those who attacked us yesterday.”

Before the address, Mr. Obama's aides traveling with him here told reporters that his remarks on the tragedy would not be a “typical contrasting speech,'' and as he spoke he left aside his earlier comments, made to CBS News, that Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, had a tendency to “shoot first and aim later.”

And then he went into his new, postconvention stump speech, saying “After all we've been through, does anybody actually believe rolling back regulations on Wall Street is actually going to help struggling small-business people he re in Las Vegas?” To cheers, he added, “We are not going back, we are going forward â€" we are going forward, Nevada â€" and that's why I'm running for a second term.''

With new chants of “Four more years,'' the rally reverted fully to form.

Mr. Obama risked political blow-back for moving forward with his rally here on what had become a day of national mourning, noting the first time an American ambassador had been killed in the line of duty in three decades.

But his aides noted that his vital security apparatus and personnel move with him when he takes flight on Air Force One, and Mr. Obama had determined that appearing here would not distract him from closely monitoring developments in Libya.

Unspoken was the importance Mr. Obama's campaign has placed on seeking to press any advantage he can from the modest lift he received in some polls after his convention last week. While Nevada has a relatively small number of Electoral College delegates, it and others of similar size will become vital to Mr. Romney's chances if, for instance, he cannot win in Ohio.

Mr. Romney won the primaries here in 2012 and 2008 and has an especially strong following among the large population of Mormons who live in Nevada. Mr. Obama, however, has been helped along here by his committed supporters in the black and Latino communities, both of which were heavily represented in the crowd of an estimated 8,000 people at Wednesday's rally.

And most polls here have shown Mr. Obama holding an edge in the state, although in many cases within the polls' margins of error.

While Mr. Obama was the obvious star attraction at the cavernous Cashman Center near downtown, the event seemed to be more about getting the attendees registered before the October deadline â€" after which they will have 10 days to do so in person only - and to the polls when early voting starts two weeks later.

Before Mr. Obama spoke to the enthusiastic c rowd he held a video teleconference with his volunteers across the country.