U.S. President Barack Obama says Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's statements about the attacks on two U.S. diplomatic outposts in the Middle East demonstrate his opponent's lack of judgment.
Romney issued a statement late Tuesday accusing the president of apologizing for the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, describing Mr. Obama's actions as "disgraceful."
He was referring to a statement issued by the embassy in Cairo earlier in the day condemning a crude video made in the U.S. that Muslims felt ridiculed the Prophet Muhammed. The statement was issued before demonstrators stormed the complex, and well before the world learned that U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens and three other officials were killed in the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.
U.S. Republican presidential nominee and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney listens to questions on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, in Jacksonville, Florida, September 12, 2012.
In a hastily organized news conference Wednesday afternoon, Romney said "it's never too early to condemn attacks on Americans and defend our values."
But in an interview with CBS News, Obama said his challenger's response revealed "a tendency to shoot first and aim later."
The Romney attacks touched off a political firestorm in official Washington, with Democrats -- and even members of Mr. Romney's own Republican party -- accusing him of politicizing a national tragedy.
U.S. Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, blasted the Republican candidate, saying Romney spoke "before the families [of the deceased] have even been notified." He called the Romney response "irresponsible" and "callous."
David Frum, a speech writer for ex-President George W. Bush, called the Romney campaign's response "a dismal business in every respect."
President Obama and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that there was "no justification" for the "senseless violence," and that those responsible would be brought to justice.