Dems pounce on Romney, call his Libya response 'atrocious'

Democrats in Congress pounced on Mitt Romney’s remarks Wednesday criticizing President Obama's handling of the situation in Libya and accused the GOP nominee of trying to divide the country during a national tragedy.

"At a time when we should be standing together against these senseless acts of violence, Mitt Romney offered an atrocious political response that undermines our unity in the face of threats to Americans around the world,” Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) said in a statement.

Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), vice chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), piled on.

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“It is absolutely inappropriate for Romney to seize on this tragedy for political gain," Honda said in a statement. "Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton said exactly what needed to be said in this sad hour in order to ease religious tension while simultaneously condemning the attack on our Embassy and killing of Americans in Libya.”

In the early aftermath of the attacks on the U.S. consulate in Libya — attacks reportedly incited by an amateur anti-Islam video posted on the Web — Romney issued a statement Tuesday night blasting the U.S. embassy in Egypt for its statement on the video, which he characterized as "akin to an apology." 

"It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Romney said. 

The statement from the embassy in Egypt was issued before protests began, and before the attack on the Libyan consulate that killed four U.S. citizens, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. It condemned the Muhammad video and “efforts to offend believers of all religions,” according to excerpts circulating on the Internet.

Wednesday morning, Romney doubled down on his criticism of the administration’s response. "Apology for American values is never the right course," he said.

Other Democrats refrained from attacking Romney directly, instead issuing statements condemning the tragedy and praising Stevens' work. 

"These American diplomats served on the front lines of our efforts to work with the Libyan people toward a future of democracy, freedom, justice, and stability," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Wednesday in a statement. "Their commitment to peace and security stand in stark contrast to those who perpetrated this violent act."