Republicans are latching on to Vice President Biden's statement about the security situation in Libya during Thursday's debate to accuse the Obama administration of being either deceitful or incompetent.
Echoing Mitt Romney's campaign, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) slammed Biden for saying the White House wasn't told that officials at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, had asked for more security before the attack last month that killed four Americans.
“Biden on Benghazi was so wrong last night, it’s going to haunt them from now until the next debate,” Gingrich said.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans died on Sept. 11 when heavily armed Islamist militants attacked the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. State Department officials testified at a House hearing Wednesday that the U.S. mission in Libya repeatedly asked for more security in the months before the attack but was rebuffed by Washington.
“We weren't told they wanted more security there,” Biden said early in the debate Thursday night against Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). “We did not know they wanted more security.”
Romney campaign adviser Dan Senor pounced, saying Biden's comments “point to the larger failures of the administration to be completely transparent about the terrorist attacks in Benghazi and the security situations leading up to the attacks.”
“Vice President Biden tonight continued the administration’s pattern of misleading the American people about events in Libya,” Senor said in a statement late Thursday night. “He wrongly stated that the administration was not aware of requests for more security from our diplomatic facilities in Libya.
“We need leaders who will be truthful with the American people and who are informed about vital issues of national security.”
And senior Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said Friday the administration will have to address the discrepancy promptly.
“There’s some pretty serious questions that came out of the debate last night,” Gillespie said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." “I mean, either the regional security officer to the State Department with responsibility for Libya was wrong in his sworn testimony before Congress about requests, repeated requests for more security in Benghazi, or the vice president wasn’t telling the truth last night in a debate before the American people.
“A pretty serious question that will have to be resolved at some point today, I would think, I don’t think the White House can hold on this, something has to give here, someone’s not telling the truth.”
Asked if it was bad information or a cover-up, Gillespie said, “I don’t know. And I think that’s one of the things people have to ask today. Both of those statements can’t be true.”
Jonathan Easley contributed.