Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for Obama, on Thursday accused Republicans of playing politics with the consulate attack and said pressure from the Romney campaign was the “entire reason” the issue had persisted.
"We would have told the American people what we knew and, you know, in terms of the politicization of this — we're here at a debate, and I hope we get to talk about the debate — but the entire reason that this has become the, you know, political topic it is, is because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. It's a big part of their stump speech and it's reckless and irresponsible," Cutter said during an interview with CNN.
Cutter’s comments drew quick fire from the right, coming just a day after the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing that raised fresh questions about whether security lapses at the consulate were a factor in the deaths of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three others.
Cutter stuck with her message after the interview, tweeting that "Romney has politicized Libya [with] no plans of his own," and said the president's "priorities are getting facts and bringing terrorists to justice."
She later released a statement that noted Romney had come under criticism for his reaction to the attack on the U.S. embassy in Cairo, which also took place on Sept. 11, the same day the U.S. Consulate in Libya was attacked.
The White House has changed its account of the events in Libya after saying it initially appeared the Benghazi attacks were related to a crude anti-Muslim video that sparked protests in Egypt.
At the White House press briefing on Wednesday, press secretary Jay Carney said officials had initially spoken "based on the facts we knew at the time" and that the White House has always insisted "this was an ongoing investigation."
"This is a moving picture," Carney said, adding that "our sole interest — the president's sole interest — is to find out exactly what happened."
The issue will likely be raised during the vice presidential debate Thursday night and at the presidential foreign policy debate later this month.