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The death of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at a consulate in the country led to a political clash between GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama today.
While both universally condemned the rocket attack that killed Chris Stevens and three other Americans at the U.S. consulate in Libya as well as the attacks on the U.S. embassy in Egypt, Romney sought to distinguish himself from Obama by criticizing Obama's foreign policy and what he called an administration apology for American values.
"The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead," Romney told reporters at a news conference. "American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don't spin out of control."
Romney batted back questions that he might have erred in criticizing the initial U.S. reaction to the Egyptian embassy attack, which sought to distance the U.S. government from a film made by an Israeli-American. The film appears to have set off the attacks because it offended Muslims by depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad in a negative light.
"The president takes responsibility not just for the words that come from his mouth but also from the words that come from his ambassadors from his administration, from his embassies, from his State Department," Romney said. "They clearly - they clearly sent mixed messages to the world and the statement that came from the administration and the embassy is the administration. The statement that came from the administration was - was a statement which is akin to apology and I think was a severe miscalculation."
Obama sought to strike a presidential posture, praising the sacrifice of the dead in a Rose Garden speech Wednesday morning and pledging to bring the responsible parties to justice.
"Often they are away from their families," Obama said, in reference to the diplomatic corps. "Sometimes they brave great danger.
"There is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence. None," he said.
He also promised to find the responsible parties: "Make no mistake, justice will be done."
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) rebuked any attempts to make political gain out of the deaths of Americans in Benghazi.
"This is one of those moments when Americans must unite as Americans. It is exactly the wrong time to throw political punches. It is a time to restore calm and proceed wisely," Kerry said.