Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made a concerted effort to exploit the Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya for political gain, David Axelrod charged Sunday morning.
There “is no doubt he is working hard to exploit this issue,” Axelrod, a senior campaign adviser to President Obama said of Romney in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.”
The attack last month in Benghazi claimed the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. The administration initially said it appeared to be a spontaneous attack, but later declared the assault an act of terror, prompting an outcry from Republicans about an inconsistent assessment.
When asked on the same program whether Romney believed the administration’s reaction to the attack was political, senior Romney adviser Ed Gillespie stopped short of drawing that conclusion and said he did not know. “We think there are more questions than answers right now,” Gillespie said.
The State Department acknowledged last week that it rejected appeals for more security in Libya in the months preceding the attack there. Vice President Biden said during a Thursday debate with Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan (Wis.) that “we weren’t told they wanted more security there.” Axelrod on Sunday said that “we” referred to Biden and Obama.
“I think what he was talking about was what he and the president knew, because these matters were being handled at the State Department,” Axelrod said.
“I guess we will accept that explanation,” responded Gillespie. “’We’ generally means our administration. What we are seeing here is an effort by Obama and Biden saying, ‘no it was the State Department.’”