After a careful silence while his opponent faced allegations of politicizing national security, President Barack Obama took a his own swing at Mitt Romney on Wednesday
"There's a broader lesson to be learned here: Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later," Obama told CBS News of Romney's claim that Obama was not forceful enough in his response to yesterday's killing of four U.S. diplomats in Libya.
Romney's statement, released last night before many of the facts from the attack in Benghazi were gathered, has drawn bipartisan criticism as lawmakers call for unity to respond to what is now being investigated as a terrorist attack.
Since an initial early morning statement from the campaign, Obama's political operation had taken care not to be seen as capitalizing on the events for political gain — but once Romney tried just that, Obama took the gloves off.
"As president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that-it's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them," Obama continued.
Obama's campaign spent much of the day silent on the issue, deferring to the White House to respond to a national security incident. Their silence had the added benefit of allowing Romney time to wallow in the mess of his own creation.
"Why do we have to say anything when members of his own party are attacking him for it," said one Obama staffer who was not authorized to speak publicly on the issue.
Obama's response is just the latest iteration of his campaign's attempts to use foreign policy to drive a character attack on Romney — that he's uneducated on the issues and makes rash decisions — that, if successful, would undercut Romney's case for economic competence.
Republicans, meanwhile, rolled their eyes at an attack timed to drive a bad story for Romney forward.
"Obama [is] so outraged by the way Romney politicized the situation that he's going to fire a political attack on him in time for the nightly news?" asked a GOP official.