President Barack Obama has seen his edge on foreign policy and international issues crumble over the past month, as criticism of his handling of the situation in Libya has reached a fever point. According to a new Fox News poll released Wednesday, Obama now has a 6-point edge over Republican nominee Mitt Romney on handling foreign policy among likely voters. That’s down from a 15-point lead in a poll taken directly before the attack in Libya that left a U.S. ambassador dead.
A month ago, Obama also held a 10-point lead on the question of which candidate would best protect the U.S. from a terrorist attack. That number has fallen to just 4 points today.
For much of the general election, Obama has held a substantial lead on both issues — a surprise, considering recent history of Republicans’ edge on foreign policy in the George W. Bush years.
But in the Fox News poll, only 37 per cent of voters approve of the way Obama has handled the situation in Libya, while 46 per cent disapprove. Two-thirds of voters, meanwhile, find it “troubling” that the administration gave “false information in public statements” in the early aftermath of the attacks, when the attacks were cast as a response to an anti-Muslim film.
Romney has stepped up his criticism of Obama’s foreign policy lately, giving a speech Monday at the Virginia Military Institute that cast Obama as weak and dangerous.
“With each passing day, we learn more about the ways in which the Obama Administration misled the American people about the tragic events that transpired in the terrorist attack on our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012,” Romney policy director Lanhee Chen said in a statement Wednesday.
Obama explained the shifting narrative in an interview with ABC on Wednesday.
“This has all been well-documented and recorded: As information came in, information was put out,” he said.
“The information may not have always been right the first time. And as soon as it turns out that we have a fuller picture of what happened, then that was disclosed,” he said. “But the bottom line is that my job is to let everybody know I want to know what happened. I want us to get the folks who did it, and I want us to figure out what are the lessons learned and ask the tough questions to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
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