Some are questioning if the Obama administration is too tentative in how they address terrorist activities and if the tone of their statements is more apologetic than forceful. On the other hand, liberals contend that Mitt Romney is a loose cannon and knows little of how to navigate the complicated world of international politics.
President Obama has come under intense scrutiny over his handling of this week's unrest in the Middle East. Administration officials are unclear – or at least reluctant to say – if the attacks were planned by al-Qaida or if they were simply the result of an aggressive mob that grew more despondent over an anti-Muslim film produced in the U.S.
More and more evidence is coming to light that the attacks may have indeed been planned for several weeks and that the U.S. has failed to work closely with a new Libyan government they helped put into the driver's seat. Now, White House spokesman Jay Carney is insisting that the unrest is to blame on the movie produced by a convicted felon and Southern California man whose real name is Nakoula Basseley Nakoula and promoted by Florida pastor Terry Jones, better known for his burning of a Quran outside his Gainesville, Fla., church.
"The reason why there is unrest is because of the film," Carney told reporters on Friday. "This is in response to the film." At another moment, he said, "The cause of the unrest was a video." At yet another, "These protests were in reaction to a video that had spread to the region."
In an article posted Saturday morning, Byron York, chief political correspondent for The Examiner, suggested that reason the Obama administration is placing the blame on the movie is because they are otherwise unable to put their finger on the true cause and thus need to deflect the issue so the American public does not lose confidence in their ability to lead.
"Why would the White House heap blame on the movie – indeed, insist that it is the sole cause of the violence – when officials don't actually know that to be true?" asked York. "There are, perhaps, two reasons. One is that the administration has put an enormous amount of faith in the idea that Arab Spring uprisings will lead to democracy in much of the Middle East. Current events suggest that faith might be misplaced. For the administration, blaming the movie is easier than admitting they were wrong about something so big and important."
"The second reason is that Barack Obama has based much of his approach to Middle Eastern affairs on what he perceives as his own unique ability to reach out to Muslims."
Romney has also come under intense criticism from liberals by first shooting before aiming when it comes to making observations on foreign policy decisions.
Nonetheless, Romney has not relented from his early criticism of the Obama administration's handling of the events from the moment the first tweet was sent by diplomats in Egypt apologizing for the actions of some Americans who hurt the feelings of Muslims.
"The world needs American leadership," Romney said at a rally in Virginia earlier this week, adding that the U.S. appeared now to be "at the mercy of events instead of shaping events" on the world stage.
The former Massachusetts governor's comments drew sharp criticism from Obama's defenders on Capitol Hill as they in essence said Romney was prematurely undercutting the commander-in-chief.
"At a time when we should be standing together against these senseless acts of violence, Mitt Romney offered an atrocious political response that undermines our unity in the face of threats to Americans around the world," Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg of New Jersey said in a statement.
Former Presidential candidate and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry joined the fray by saying "this is one of those moments when Americans must unite as Americans. It is exactly the wrong time to throw political punches. It is a time to restore calm and proceed wisely."
However, University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato says whatever Obama and Romney are saying today may not matter seven weeks from now on Election Day, especially if the violence subsides quickly. But if the violence spreads or intensifies, Romney may have the advantage.