Obama defends foreign policy, says it doesn't involve 'chest thumping'

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"Some of our opponents on the Republican side have had difficulty with the fact that we have been successful, tough and effective when it comes to going after terrorism, but we have also been able to do it in a way that is consistent with our values consistent with rule of law and that is credible around the world," he said in an interview with Michael Smerconish, a Philadelphia-based national radio talk-show host.

"One of the interesting things that I think we've been able to achieve on foreign policy is we've taken the fight to the terrorists, but you notice that you have not seen the kind of international objections and outcry that you saw in the previous administration," he continued. "The reason is that we don't go around thumping our chest about it, we seek cooperation with other countries wherever we can, we do it in a careful, methodical, systematic way. What this shows I think is that a smart, strong, steady foreign policy is different than a lot of saber rattling and chest thumping."

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration for intelligence failures both in the lead-up and reaction to the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, last month. Mitt Romney has seized on the administration's shifting timetable and explanation for what prompted the violence as a weakness in the president's foreign policy.

The president said the investigation into last month's attack on the outpost is a "top priority," and promised that his pursuit of the killers of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans will not be dictated by the election timetable.

"I think our goal would be to bring them to justice," Obama said. "I don't hesitate when it comes to the safety of the American people."

Obama then renewed his attack on Romney's "reckless" response to the Benghazi attack.

"He certainly understood that when our diplomats are under fire — not just in Benghazi but in Cairo, in Pakistan — if you aspire to be commander in chief, you don't release a press release, you don't have a political press conference that tries to take advantage of that opportunity," he said. "I'm not sure that Gov. Romney was necessarily constrained by facts that he'd received; the truth is that during the course of this campaign he hasn't been restrained by facts that much, period."

Obama said he did not know what information Romney had about the incident when he first released a statement criticizing Obama's response to it. But Obama suggested that some members of Congress are feigning ignorance about intelligence information.

"As information came in, we gave it to the American people, and as we got new info we gave that to the American people. That includes, by the way, members of Congress," he said. "One of the things that frustrates me about this town is when people go out there and try to politicize issues despite knowing that we have given them all of this information."

Romney, in a campaign speech in Iowa on Friday, argued that he is the candidate able to reach across the aisle and strike bipartisan deals to provide "big change" and address "big problems" in the country.

Despite sharing his frustration with Republicans in Congress, Obama promised in the interview that he is willing to do whatever it takes to work with Republicans in his second term. 

"I've said to folks, I'll go to Capitol Hill, I'll wash John Boehner's car, I'll walk Mitch McConnell's dog, I'll do whatever's required to get this done," he said, referring to the House Speaker and Senate minority leader. 

He has made similar statements on the campaign trail, arguing that the Republican leadership will be forced to work with him if the American people reelect him.