Decision 2012: Foreign Policy Moves To Forefront Of Presidential Race After Libya Attack
The unrest in the Middle East has turned both President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney's attention away from the economy and instead to foreign policy. The two were back on the campaign trail on Thursday. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.
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As turmoil in the Middle East continues, both President Barack Obama and his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, were back on the campaign trial. This time, it was Romney who was playing defense.
An attendee of a Romney event Thursday questioned his response to the attacks on an American embassy in Libya, which killed Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The Republican presidential candidate was criticized for his initial statement on the unrest, when he called the administration's response "disgraceful" before all the facts were known.
Romney toned down his rhetoric in Virginia Thursday, turning instead to defense spending.
"Ever since FDR, we have had the ability to be in two conflicts at once and he is saying we are going to cut that back to one conflict," he said.
Meanwhile, in Colorado, the president was balancing his role as commander-in-chief and candidate.
"Let me just say from the outset that obviously our hearts are heavy this week," he said.
As the candidates took to the trail, anti-American protests raged on in the Middle East over a video mocking the prophet Mohammed.
The crisis has catapulted foreign policy to the forefront of the presidential campaign, a topic that has been on the back burner for much of the year.
"As we watch the world today, sometimes it seems that we're at the mercy of events instead of shaping events and a strong America is essential to shape events and a strong American depends on a strong military," Romney said.
"No act of terror will go unpunished," Obama said. "It will not dim the light of the values that we present to the rest of the world."
With attention, at least temporarily, back on campaigning, the president is focusing on swing states, with trips to both Ohio and Florida scheduled, while Romney is back in New York to raise cash.
Romney was scheduled to extend his stay in the Empire State through Friday. He was slated to have a fundraiser on Long Island Thursday night, and another fundraiser here at the Hilton Friday morning.