Earlier Thursday, Romney had taken a more critical edge, saying it was "about time" that the dictator had been killed. He did not mention President Obama at all in his comments at that time.

Most other Republican candidates also avoided praising the president in their statements on Gadhafi's death, although Rick Santorum went out of his way to say Obama should not be credited.

“Ridding the world of the likes of Gadhafi is a good thing,” Santorum said. “But this indecisive president had little to do with this triumph.”