| LAS VEGAS, Sept 12
LAS VEGAS, Sept 12 President Barack Obama
observed a cardinal rule of politics as he returned to the
campaign trail on Wednesday: don't interfere when your opponent
is committing political suicide.
As Republican rival Mitt Romney scrambled to contain the
fallout from his reaction to the attacks on U.S. diplomatic
facilities in Libya and Egypt, Obama spoke broadly about the
tragedy in a manner that emphasized the vast power he commands
as commander in chief.
He vowed to track down those who killed four U.S. diplomats
and mused on the risks borne by Americans who work to advance
U.S. interests abroad.
He praised those who had lost their lives and insisted that
the attacks would not deter U.S. efforts to help democracy
emerge in the Middle East. And he said he would maintain the
strongest military force in the world.
"No act of violence will shake the resolve of the United
States of America," he told an enthusiastic crowd of 8,000 at a
Las Vegas convention center.
But Obama steered clear of attacks on Romney, who is already
facing a barrage of criticism for his campaign's response to the
fast-moving foreign policy crisis. In fact, he didn't mention
Romney's name at all.
As mobs attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi and the
embassy in Cairo, Romney's campaign in a statement Tuesday night
portrayed the administration as apologetic over the incidents.
Romney himself repeated the criticism on Wednesday morning after
it was apparent that U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three
others had been killed in Libya.
Fellow Republicans said the statement could be portrayed as
political opportunism, and Obama told CBS News earlier in the
day that Romney had a tendency to "shoot first and aim later."
As he campaigned in the battleground state of Nevada, Obama
limited his attacks to domestic concerns. He argued that Romney
would push through tax cuts that would benefit the wealthy and
eviscerate programs that help the middle class, like education
"We do not believe that the answer to our challenges is to
tell folks, 'You are on your own,'" he said.
Obama has not shied from attacking Romney on foreign policy
before. In a high-profile speech at last week's Democratic
convention, he said the former Massachusetts governor was stuck
in a Cold War mindset and ridiculed him for insulting England
over its preparation for the Olympic Games.
But on Wednesday, he sought to emphasize the country's
common values, not its partisan spats, as he discussed the
Americans who died in the Middle East.
"They were working for the values that we hold dear as
Americans, and as Americans we stand united, too, all of us, in
gratitude for their service," he said.