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Up to this point, foreign policy and world affairs has been nearly dead last on the list of issues voters find most troubling heading into the 2012 election. One can’t help but wonder whether that topic will move up the list a few notches given the recent events in Egypt and Libya.

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Report from the The Daily Star:

The killing of Americans in Libya and the sacking of the U.S. Embassy in Egypt present President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney with a sudden, delicate leadership test 55 days from the election day.

The current commander-in-chief and the man who wants to oust him faced an immediate challenge to measure their words on a fast-developing crisis, which has many Americans in harm’s way, with their own narrower political interests.

Obama, appearing in the White House Rose Garden, somberly condemned the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, projected presidential dignity, called on Americans to unite and promised action to protect diplomats in the Arab world.

His remarks, though unfolding in a highly political context, stuck to foreign policy, as he mourned slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and his comrades and vowed justice.

But the president’s unspoken political mission was to exploit and enhance perceptions of him as a steely global leader and to shield his own election prospects from immediate damage from any voter outrage at home.

Romney, behind in the presidential race and under fire as a diplomatic neophyte, muscled in on the media narrative with a highly political response, sparking accusations his reaction was crass and a “disaster.”

Some observers compared his remarks to ex-Republican John McCain’s fumbling attempt in 2008 to meet the erupting financial crisis, partly credited with ensuring his defeat.

Romney stood behind his remarks when questioned again later in the day, report from Reuters:

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Wednesday stood by his criticism of the Obama administration for its initial response to attacks against U.S. diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt, calling the White House’s reaction disgraceful.

In a campaign dominated by the weak U.S. economy, the Libya crisis and the killing of the U.S. ambassador there put foreign policy in the spotlight with less than two months to go before the November 6 election between President Barack Obama and Romney.

Romney, eager to draw a distinction between himself and Obama on national security, also criticized Obama’s handling of the U.S. relationship with Israel a day after reports that Obama did not plan to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York this month during the U.N. General Assembly.

My heart goes out to the family of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the other Americans who were murdered in this act of terrorism against the United States.

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Nate Ashworth is the Founder and Senior Editor of Election Central. He's been blogging elections and politics for almost a decade. He started covering the 2008 Presidential Election which turned into a full-time political blog in 2012 and 2016.

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