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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Romney Offers Sharp Criticism of Obama\'s Handling of Libya Terrorist Attacks


ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Mitt Romney delivered his most pointed criticism to date of President Obama's handling of the lethal attack in Benghazi, Libya, on Thursday, a possible foreshadowing of how Representative Paul D. Ryan will address the issue in the vice-presidential debate.

“President Obama, this is an issue because Americans wonder why it was it took so long for you and your administration to admit this was a terrorist attack,'' Mr. Romney said at a rally here.

Mr. Romney previously had offered only general criticism of the administration for not labelling the Sept. 11 attack, in which Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died, as terrorism. Although Mr. Obama called the ass ault “an act of terror” the next day, his spokesman and other senior administraiton officials continued to describe it as unplanned and part of a protest outside the American diplomatic mission. Republicans in Congress and conservative commentators accused the Obama administration of downplaying an act of terrorism to avoid embarassing the president.

Republicans in Congress and conservative commentators suggested the Obama administration was playing down terrorism to avoid embarrassing the president.

Mr. Romney did not go that far. But he offered a biting response to earlier comments on Thursday by Stephanie Cutter, Mr. Obama's deputy campaign manager, who accused Republicans of playing politics.

“The entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan,'' Ms. Cutter said in an interview with CNN. “It's a big part of their stump speech, and it's reckless and irresponsible.''

Mr. Romney repeated the remarks at the rally here. “No, President Obama, it's an issue because this is the first time in 33 years that a United States ambassador has been assassinated,” he said. “Mr. President, this is an issue because we were attacked successfully by terrorists on the anniversary of 9/11.

“This is a very serious issue,” he added. “These are serious questions and the American people deserve serious answers, and I hope they come soon.''