(CNN) - Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, on Tuesday walked back recent comments accusing the White House of leaking national security information and blasted Mitt Romney for using her remarks in a speech on foreign policy.
"I am disappointed by the statements made by Mr. Romney today regarding a question I was asked yesterday at the World Affairs Council," Feinstein said in a statement.
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Feinstein added she did not believe the leaks came from the president but stated she "shouldn't have speculated beyond."
On Monday, Feinstein said during a question and answer session at a World Affairs Council forum that "the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from its ranks. I don't know specifically where, but they have to begin to understand that, and do something about it."
Feinstein, the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, has used tough language in the past regarding the leaks but has declined to join the Republican call for a special independent investigation.
In June, the Department of Justice announced it was appointing two U.S. attorneys to investigate the leaks, which included classified information published in the New York Times in June regarding what was described as a U.S. cyberattack targeting Iran's nuclear centrifuge program.
Other recent possible leaks of classified information included details on the administration's efforts to expand its drone program and Obama's involvement in "kill lists" against militants in Yemen and Pakistan.
The public airing of details surrounding a recently disrupted bomb plot in Yemen by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula also angered intelligence and national security officials.
On Monday, Feinstein was clear she didn't think Obama or his top aides were responsible for releasing the classified information. She did say, however, that Obama needed to set a tone in his administration that leaks would not be tolerated.
"I don't believe for a moment [Obama] goes out and talks about it," Feinstein said of secret intelligence information. "I don't believe the briefers go out and talk about it. But who knows who else. And I think that the importance of this has to be really set by the president himself, and hopefully he will do it."
Seizing on her remarks, Romney cited Feinstein in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention on Tuesday.
"This conduct is contemptible," Romney said of the leaks. "It betrays our national interest. It compromises our men and women in the field. And it demands a full and prompt investigation by a special counsel, with explanation and consequence."
Feinstein, however, in a statement released shortly after his speech, said she regretted her choice of words the day prior and disputed Romney's decision to reference her comments in his VFW remarks.
"I was asked whether the White House might be responsible for recent national security leaks. I stated that I did not believe the president leaked classified information. I shouldn't have speculated beyond that, because the fact of the matter is I don't know the source of the leaks," she said.
She continued: "I'm on record as being disturbed by these leaks, and I regret my remarks are being used to impugn President Obama or his commitment to protecting national security secrets. I know for a fact the president is extremely troubled by these leaks. His administration has moved aggressively to appoint two independent U.S. attorneys. There is an investigation under way, and it is moving forward quickly.
"I know we are in a campaign season, but I hope the investigation proceeds without political accusation or interference from anyone."
Later in a separate statement, Romney's campaign argued Feinstein had been pressured to amend her comments.
"It looks like President Obama has given Dianne Feinstein the Cory Booker treatment. Yesterday she was speaking candidly about the leaks originating from this White House. Today, she was forced to walk it back," said Ryan Williams, Romney campaign spokesman.
- CNN's Dana Bash, Shawna Shepherd, Kevin Liptak, and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.