US Presidential Election 2012

The United States' 57th quadrennial presidential election took place in November 2012. Incumbent President and Democrat Barack Obama won election and is running for a second term. His major challenger was former Massachusetts Governor, Republican Mitt Romney. From January to June, Americans voted in nationwide state level primaries and caucuses, which serveed the purpose of selecting party representatives of states to be sent for the party convention. The key issues in this race for the White House were social issues including the state of the economy, abortion and contraception, gay marriage, and immigration.

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WHITE HOUSE RACE

Libya security row rocks Obama campaign

Romney campaign pounces on issue of whether president's officials ignored requests for more protection before attack on US consulate

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 14 October, 2012, 4:03am
 

The lethal attack on the US diplomatic mission in Libya last month has caused an unexpected casualty.

It has wrecked White House hopes that President Barack Obama would remain relatively unscathed on foreign policy issues in the presidential race.

Questions about whether the Obama administration ignored requests for beefed-up security in Libya and why a sizeable CIA presence in Benghazi failed to foresee an attack by dozens of armed extremists have become a distraction - if not a problem - for the president's re-election bid.

Speaking to voters in Richmond, Virginia, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticised Vice-President Joe Biden for his defence during last week's debate of the administration's actions.

Romney said Biden's argument contradicted sworn testimony by State Department officials. "He's doubling down on denial, and we need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to just having people brush this aside," Romney said.

During Thursday's debate, Biden said the White House wasn't told of a request for additional security at the mission in Benghazi a month before the incident. "We did not know they wanted more security," Biden said. State Department official Eric Nordstrom, who was a regional security officer in Tripoli until July, told a congressional committee last week that he was turned down when he requested that a 16-member security support team scheduled to leave Libya in August be extended.

Another department official, Charlene Lamb, deputy assistant secretary for international programmes, told the hearing she had refused the requests.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said pleas for more security are handled at the State Department.

Asked to clarify Biden's comment about the administration's knowledge of the security request, Carney said Biden was referring only to himself and the president.

The dispute is part of an effort by Republicans to push foreign policy to the forefront of a campaign that has been largely about the domestic economy.

The Obama campaign has never thought the race would turn on foreign policy, and aides say they don't believe many people will cast votes based on the response to events in Libya.

Still, Obama has used his foreign policy record - largely his withdrawal of troops from Iraq and the death of Osama bin Laden - as a potent reminder of the promises he made and kept.

Whether persistent Republican attacks on the administration's shifting accounts, insufficient security and continued instability in Libya will significantly undermine that case remains to be seen.

But the questions over the attack in Benghazi have also helped Romney put the president on the defensive. In the vice- presidential debate, Romney's running mate Paul Ryan used it to emphasise the Republican ticket's more expansive critique of Obama's tenure.

"It's indicative of a broader problem, and that is what we are watching on our TV screens is the unravelling of the Obama foreign policy, which is making the world more chaotic, and us less safe," he said.

Romney's campaign has been hammering away on whether the administration relayed accurate information, suggesting the White House did not want to acknowledge a successful terrorist attack on its watch.

Meanwhile The US Treasury said on Friday it would delay a semi-annual currency report until after a finance meeting next month, a move that will probably draw fresh criticism from Romney, who has accused the Obama administration of being soft on China's currency policies.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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