(CNN) - Sen. John McCain on Wednesday said Mitt Romney missed an opportunity to go after the president over Libya in the second presidential debate.
Asked whether Romney failed to press President Barack Obama on the administration's handling of last month's consulate attack, the Arizona senator said "in a way, he did" on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360."
During the debate, Obama said he referred to the Libya attack as an "act of terror" the day after the violence last month. Romney disputed the claim, sparking a fiery exchange over whether the president used the term.
On Wednesday, some political observers noted Romney spent too much time over the semantics, rather than moving on and asking more questions about the security of the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya. U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed in the attack on the U.S. facility on September 11, 2012.
As it turns out, the president did use the words "acts of terror" in the Rose Garden speech, but opponents point to the fact that some in the administration waffled on calling it a terrorist attack in the following days. Certain officials, instead, cited protests over an anti-Islam film as the trigger of the violence.
McCain, however, sided with those who say the president was not forceful enough in his choice of words after the attack.
"When you look at the president's Rose Garden statement, it really wasn't talking about that act," said the 2008 Republican presidential nominee.
Obama, in fact, used the phrase toward the end of the speech, saying, "No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation." Critics, however, point to the fact that he mentioned the September 11, 2001, attacks before the phrase in his speech and could have been referring to that disaster, as well.
McCain said Wednesday the president should have fully acknowledged the violence as terrorism from day one.
"We knew within hours that this was a coordinated attack with heavy weapons," McCain said. "It was obvious."
McCain wasn't the only Republican defending Romney on Wednesday. Rep. Peter King of New York also had biting words for the president's response to the Libya attack. On CNN's "Erin Burnett OutFront," the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee described the situation as "shameful."
"I'm going to use my words very carefully,” King said. “I think the president's conduct and behavior on this issue has been shameful.”
The congressman argued Obama was four minutes into his Rose Garden speech on September 12 before he mentioned an act of terror. King also noted the 9/11 mention in the speech.
"Is he talking about Benghazi or is he talking about September 11th or all acts of terror?" he said. "The most you could say for him is it's ambiguous."
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