By Julian Pecquet - 09/17/12 05:01 PM EDT
The Obama campaign on Monday continued to hit Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on his reaction to the riots in the Middle East, even as both candidates refocused their attention on the economy.
“Every president — male, female, no matter who it is Republican, Democrat — is going to face a crisis or multiple crises as the president has faced,” President Obama's traveling press secretary, Jen Psaki, told reporters traveling with the president to Ohio.
“What we've seen from Mitt Romney is a disastrous trip overseas; last week he criticized — accused – the president of sympathizing with the attackers and mischaracterized a statement from our embassy; and then he had an adviser the next day go out and say that if Mitt Romney had been president this wouldn't have happened. So this does raise a question of whether his team is ready for prime time when it comes to these issues.”
Earlier in the impromptu press briefing, Psaki and principal deputy press secretary John Earnest told reporters the president was balancing his campaign events with the need to monitor the situation in the Middle East, where anti-American protests continue to rock Lebanon and other countries almost a week after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed in Libya.
Earnest said the president called the chiefs of mission in Sudan, Tunisia, Libya and Yemen over the weekend to “let those diplomats know that he was thinking about them, that their safety remains a top priority of his.”
“This is something that is on his mind even as he has some responsibilities as a candidate for reelection,” Earnest said.
Asked if Obama would scale back campaign events if violence erupts again, Psaki said, “The president's top priority is clear. But right now he’s out here in Ohio today, he’s able to receive updates, receive briefings.”
Asked if Obama agrees with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement that Iran is six to seven months away from having 90 percent of what it needs to build a nuclear bomb, Earnest declined to answer, saying the president still believes there's time for sanctions and diplomacy to work.
“I'm not going to get into the details of our intelligence assessments,” he said.