By Alicia M. Cohn - 10/17/12 11:47 AM EDT
GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) on Wednesday defended Mitt Romney's debate attacks on Libya, repeating charges that President Obama had waited two weeks to dub the violence at the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi an act of terrorism.
In an exchange that has fueled a debate over the administration's response to the attacks, debate moderator Candy Crowley stepped in Tuesday night to correct Romney's assertion that Obama did not use the phrase "act of terror" the day after the attack on the consulate in Benghazi last month that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador to Libya.
"He did call it an act of terror," Crowley said. "It did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.”
Romney appeared to back off his point at the time, but the Romney campaign was doing damage control over the incident post-debate and well into Wednesday morning, reminding media through press releases and Twitter that many media outlets reported on the Obama administration's avoidance of labeling the attack an act of terrorism until Oct. 21.
Ryan doubled down in three separate appearances on broadcast morning shows, saying, "What's troubling about this Benghazi attack is that it took two weeks for the administration to get their story straight."
Ryan went over the timeline distributed by the Romney campaign that documents statements by the White House and the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations for two weeks following the incident, where it was called spontaneous and the violence was blamed on an anti-Islam YouTube video. The administration has since acknowledged it was a terrorist attack.
"She already backtracked from that statement," Ryan said of Crowley. "She said Mitt Romney was right in what he said."
Crowley told CNN after the debate, "I did turn around and say that you are totally correct that they spent two weeks telling us that this was about a tape and that there was a riot outside the Benghazi consulate, which there wasn't. So [Romney] was right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word."
Crowley denied in a later interview on Wednesday morning with CNN that she was backtracking, but confirmed that Romney had a point during the debate.
But the Obama campaign on Wednesday saw an advantage in the debate exchange, with Vice President Biden saying that Romney had been revealed trying to "politicize the tragedy."
“Their strategy seems to be to try to make it appear that the president didn’t know or didn’t care or was lying. The fact is the president was clear — we are going to get to the bottom of this; the whole world will know it," said Biden in a separate interview on ABC's "Good Morning America" on Wednesday morning.
Updated at 10:41 a.m.