President Barack Obama on Thursday faced some of the toughest questioning of his reelection campaign to date, pressed repeatedly on his failure to achieve comprehensive immigration reform and other unmet promises from his 2008 run.
The Univision presidential forum at the University of Miami here kicked off with grilling on another topic which brought mounting criticism from Republicans Thursday: The government’s decision to label as a terrorist attack the violence at the consulate in Benghazi which killed American Christopher Stevens.
Asked why the United States was not better prepared, with better security at its embassies on the Sept. 11 anniversary, Obama responded by repeating the admonitions about not tolerating violence, but continued to discuss the incident in the context of the controversial video depicting scenes from the life of Mohammed.
“This is obviously something that is used as excuse by some to carry out inexcusable violent acts on westerners or Americans,” Obama said, “and my number one priority is to keep our diplomats safe and our embassies safe.”
The president did not go as far as had his press secretary, Jay Carney, who earlier in the day told reporters on the flight from Washington that the president considers the attacks last week in Benghazi terrorism.
“We’re still doing an investigation,” he said. “What we do know is that the natural protests that arose because of the outrage over the video were used as an excuse by the extremists to see if they could directly harm U.S. interests.”