President Barack Obama and his Republican opponent Mitt Romney are both in New York before they address the Clinton Global Initiative on Tuesday, and their campaigns were parsing how the president is handling the strife in the Middle East. NY1's Josh Robin filed the following report.
Mitt Romney has been campaigning on the sluggish economy, but he also is targeting the President on Middle Eastern strife.
In an interview airing on CBS' "60 Minutes" Sunday, Obama called the unrest "bumps in the road," giving the Republican some ammunition.
"Bumps in the road? We had an ambassador assassinated [in Libya], we had a Muslim Brotherhood member elected president in Egypt, 20,000 people have been killed in Syria. We have tumult in Pakistan," said Romney.
The president's advisors are accusing Republicans of misinterpreting Obama's words.
"The President is certainly not minimizing the challenges that those transformations are facing," said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "I understand that Republicans in this case are searching for reeds to grab onto, but I think the president’s views on these matters are very clear and very strong."
Meanwhile, Democrats are using Romney's own language against him. A new ad airing in Ohio uses widely seen video taped at a private fundraiser, where Romney dismissed as victims nearly half of the American population who don't pay income taxes.
Both candidates are headed to Ohio later this week. It is a swing state where polls show the president with a narrow lead.