With less than 72 hours to go before the first presidential debate, Republicans are eyeing a new opening for Mitt Romney to go after President Barack Obama on his administration’s botched response to the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
The Libya attacks popped up again as a campaign issue this weekend, after the New York Times reported that the administration has reversed its position and is now calling the attack an organised terrorist attack. The shift comes just a few weeks after United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice publicly insisted that the attacks weren’t premeditated.
Republicans pounced on the administration on the Sunday news shows, with U.S. Sen. John McCain even accusing the administration of trying to downplay the attacks to avoid complicating his campaign narrative.
And this morning, the Karl Rove-backed Super PAC American Crossroads released a brutal new video slamming Obama for campaigning on the day of the attacks, and for skipping meetings with world leaders last week in order to appear on The View.
Watch the video below:
Mitt Romney also weighed in on the issue, calling for a “new course in the Middle East” in an op-ed published in today’s Wall Street Journal.
“By failing to maintain the elements of our influence and by stepping away from our allies, President Obama has heightened the prospect of conflict and instability,” Romney writes. “He does not understand that an American policy that lacks resolve can provoke aggression and encourage disorder.”
The op-ed would appear to indicate that Romney wants to address the issue in this week’s debate, which is slated to focus on domestic policy issues. Republicans believe that Romney’s window of opportunity to attack Obama on the issue — and thus gain an upper hand going into the last full month of the campaign — is closing.
But it is not clear whether Romney will take his shot. Politico reports that the Romney campaign is split over how aggressively to attack Obama on foreign policy issues, with some advisors arguing that Libya represents a huge opening for Romney to change the subject, and turn around a campaign that has struggled to overcome a series of stumbles in the last few weeks.
But while Romney does plan to make a big foreign policy address sometime next week, his campaign plans to stick to its day-to-day plan of hammering Obama on the economy, at least for now.
“As messy as the world looks, it’s not voters’ primary concern,” a top aide told Politico. “And if we’re not talking about their primary concern, we’re not winning.”
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