Louisville, Kentucky (CNN) - Aides to President Barack Obama on Friday attempted to clean up comments made by Vice President Joe Biden regarding security requests in Libya during Thursday night's vice presidential debate.
When asked about the security of U.S. diplomats in Libya prior to the attack in Benghazi, Biden said "We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again."
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Those comments contradict Congressional testimony by State Department officials who told the House Oversight Committee requests for security staffing in Libya were made and denied prior to the attacks in Benghazi.
But officials said the "we" to which Biden was referring includes himself, the president and the White House but not the rest of the administration.
Answering questions at the White House Friday, Press Secretary Jay Carney said the vice president "was speaking directly for himself and for the president, he meant the White House."
Carney continued, "No one who testified about this matter suggested that request(s) for additional security were made to the president or the White House."
If it sounds like he's suggesting the buck stops at the State Department in Foggy Bottom, White House aides say not exactly.
A senior White House official, speaking anonymously, told CNN they recognize the president is responsible for the security of all U.S. personnel around the world. But their intent here is to make clear that the vice president was not misspeaking when he said that he and the president were not personally briefed on the security requests.
The senior White House official also argued that while there were specific requests for additional security in Tripoli, there were none in Benghazi. The aide challenged Rep. Paul Ryan for suggesting Marines should have been protecting the ambassador, insisting Marines are never dispatched to protect diplomatic staff. As for security requests: one State Department official testified that there was an inquiry for more security in Benghazi but was not clear about how high it went.
Mitt Romney was quick to leap on the comments. During a speech in Virginia Friday he told a crowd the vice president is "doubling down on denial and we need to understand exactly what happened, as opposed to having people brush this aside. "
"American citizens have a right to know just what's going on and we're going to find and out and this is the time to make sure we do find out," he added.
A White House official also defended UN Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, saying that her comments describing what instigated the attack that killed four Americans will ultimately hold up.
The official said the intelligence community still believes the perpetrators were inspired to act after seeing a facility breached in Cairo. And insisted they're now determining whether that prompted them to launch a previously never before considered assault, or whether the perpetrators saw an opening to put into action a plan of attack that had been sitting on the shelf. Either way, the official insists, the U.S. had no forewarning of the attack.
Rice has been roundly criticized for appearing on multiple Sunday morning talk shows following the deaths and blaming the attacks on the frenzy from protests over the now well known video critical of Islam. She described the assault as "a spontaneous reaction."
The official added the Obama administration did not have a threat stream related to the consulate in Benghazi and the intelligence community has not established that there was a premeditated plan to attack the location on September 11th.