Romney leaves Libya attack to Republican lawmakers in Congress

The one foreign policy topic that was expected to dominate Monday night's foreign policy debate barely got a mention: Libya.

Instead of hammering President Obama on his administration's response to the killing of the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans last month in Benghazi, Libya, Romney praised Obama for joining an international coalition that routed Moammar Gadhafi last year. 

Polls show the president's once comfortable lead on foreign policy has shrunk considerably over the past month.

Rather than risk looking like he was politicizing the attack on the U.S. Consulate, Romney sought to appear above the political fray. 

All the while, however, his allies on Capitol Hill have continued to hammer the president over security failings at the consulate and the administration's shifting explanation of what happened.

“This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world — and to America in particular — which is to see a complete change in the structure and the environment of the Middle East,” Romney said. “With the Arab Spring came a great deal of hope that there would be a change towards more moderation … but instead we've seen in nation after nation a number of disturbing events.”

He went on to lay out a comprehensive agenda for preventing radical Islamists from gaining traction in the Middle East, by using foreign aid and encouraging trade and education. 

The strategy appeared aimed at countering Obama's efforts to cast him as a “wrong and reckless” candidate in the mold of former President George W. Bush — “attacking me is not an agenda,” Romney told the president at one point — but did little to reveal what Romney would do differently if he were elected.