Following Libya killings, Obama tones down political rhetoric
September 12th, 2012
10:15 PM ET
10 years ago

Following Libya killings, Obama tones down political rhetoric

Las Vegas (CNN) - Sticking to his campaign schedule Wednesday despite the recent killings of four State Department employees in Libya Tuesday night, President Barack Obama vowed to a raucous Las Vegas crowd that he intends to seek justice.

"As for the ones we lost last night, I want to assure you we will bring their killers to justice," he said to loud cheers from a crowd of supporters that numbered more than 8,000 in a packed convention room just north of the Las Vegas strip.

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The comments marked Obama's first reaction at an overtly political event to the news of the deaths of U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens and three other State Department employees. The president weighed in twice earlier Wednesday, first in a statement from the White House Rose Garden. Later in the day, Obama took a shot at his opponent’s reaction to the events, saying in an interview with CBS News that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney “seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later, and as president, one of the things I've learned is you can't do that."

There was speculation the Obama campaign would cancel the Las Vegas rally in light of the tragedy.

While the campaign ultimately decided to press on with the event, its tone was decidedly scaled down. Obama refrained from his sharpest political barbs, did not mention rival Mitt Romney by name as he usually does, and entered absent his trademark introductory song, U2’s “The City of Blinding Lights.” The campaign later confirmed the absence of music was a deliberate effort to rein in the usually charged atmospherics of a campaign event.

"It's a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy, sometimes even the freedoms we take for granted, they're only sustained because there are people like those who were killed, who were willing to stand up for those freedoms, who were willing to fight for those freedoms, in some cases to lay their lives down for those freedoms," he also said. "So tonight let's think of them and thank them."

Obama also addressed the killings in a conference video with grassroots supporters before the Las Vegas event, telling volunteers, "Our hearts are broken for the families."

"The sacrifices that our troops and our diplomats make are obviously very different from the challenges that we face here domestically but like them, you guys are Americans who sense that we can do better than we're doing," he also told the volunteers.

The president will head to Colorado late Wednesday ahead of a campaign event in the Denver area Thursday morning.

- CNN White House Correspondent Dan Lothian contributed to this report

Also see:

- With attacks in Middle East, campaign turns to foreign policy

- Romney's political pretzel over Libya

- Democrats outraged with Romney foreign policy attacks

- Ryan ramps up foreign policy attack on Obama

Filed under: 2012 • Libya • Nevada • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Following Libya killings, Obama tones down political rhetoric...

    Ahhh... OBAMA cares so... much !!!

    The Mom's of the dead Marines will get form letters signed by the automatic signature machine after the election "I" need to be in Las Vegas to pick up some campaign cash & play some golf!

    FORWARD -> -> -> ->
    Islam is the solution !!!

    September 12, 2012 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  2. IDontBelieveIt

    Obama talks tough on the terrorists who murdered the US Ambassador and 3 staffers – but ONLY after he flew in Air Force 1 to his FUNDRAISER event!

    And of COURSE he'll raise more money than ever on the backs of 4 dead Americans.
    You people talk about Mit Romney???
    The Embassy made a statement -they KNEW they were wrong so they retracted it - Romney was RIGHT to slam them for it. The Embassy represent the President, so HE carries the can for any statements they make.

    Obama is doing EVERYTHING he can to distract from the fact that a US Ambassador and 3 good Americans died in HIS WATCH.

    September 12, 2012 10:35 pm at 10:35 pm |
  3. Workers Unite

    Obama and his administration set this world on fire and then has the nerve to talk about justice ?

    September 12, 2012 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  4. Anthony in California

    And THIS ladies and gentlemen is HOW to LEAD.

    Cool, calm and collected.

    Romney sunk his ship trying to grandstand on a tragic event. The whole country saw it, and know even further how sleazy the ol used car salesman is.

    September 12, 2012 10:59 pm at 10:59 pm |
  5. zp

    How could Pres Obama be in front of a crowd cheering him tonight, for fundraising, of all things (in Las Vegas of all places), when the entire country is in mourning over the murder of one of our U.S. Ambassadors? This is not leadership on any level, especially not for the presidency of our great nation.

    September 12, 2012 11:35 pm at 11:35 pm |
  6. Bob

    Biased story again C N N. Wow. So Obama continues his campaign as usual raising money, yet you make the headline that he is "toning down" the rhetoric? Clearly in contrast with your headlines of Ryan "sharpening attacks." That is clear bias.

    September 12, 2012 11:51 pm at 11:51 pm |
  7. Bob Jones

    Wow. So Obama raises money and campaigns as usual, but he 'tones it down' for you. Clearly an attempt to make Ryan look bad. You are just an extension of the Obama campaign now.

    September 12, 2012 11:54 pm at 11:54 pm |
  8. John Oboho

    The best decisions are aided by credible information,and it takes time.The credible information will come to pinpoint the target.This is what Obama knows,but Romney don't seem to understand this.True to the words of President Obama,justice will be done.And others will get a very clear message,that no matter where you hide,no matter how long,America will find you,and bring you to justice.

    September 13, 2012 12:11 am at 12:11 am |
  9. To2012

    President Barack Hussein Obama was quite correct when he said Romney '...shoots first, and aims later.'

    These Tea Party extremists are the last thing we need in the United States of America serving in leadership positions. They are already guilty of the senseless deaths of thousands of US soldiers in the illegal war with Iraq; isn't that enough to feed their gluttonous, blood-thirsty diets?

    It's not only important for real Americans to take back the country from the radical, violence-loving, right-wingers; it's equally important that they take back Christianity as well.

    September 13, 2012 12:18 am at 12:18 am |
  10. Ash

    Why are people and the media focussing on Romney. He did not attack the US Embassy in Lybia on 911. Romney just reacted exactly the way we were all thinking. I love the fact that Romney showed emotion and was so upset. Why does the media and the American people continue to make excuses for the Leader of the free World? The buck stops with Obama not anyone else. Has anyone been experiencing the last 4 yrs? It's only getting worse and people are standing in line to sign up for another 4 yrs of bad times. Havent we indured enough Obama! How does anyone turn their back on Israel! As a Jew I am saddened that Obama cares more about being in Vegas today for votes and campaign $$ then to meet with the Prime Minister of Irael and address a real threat to an Ally of ours.

    September 13, 2012 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
  11. tina

    knows what he is doing. not rommey nor ryan crazy men

    September 13, 2012 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  12. CryBabies

    What a piece of work this guy is! How did this "leader of the free world" not have intelligent sources smart enough to see this coming? The answer is that he did but did not take precautions to put forces in place to protect our various embassys and people in the muslim controlled countries. Instead hes in Nevada campaigning to college students! Please, lets have another 4 years of this "empty suit" pretty boy.

    September 13, 2012 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  13. stranger in an increasingly strange land

    After the attack Obama cuts back on the political statements in order to deal with the existing reality of the problem at hand and to calm the situation down

    Republicans, on the other hand, climb on to the bodies of the Ambassador and the other people from the Embassy and start making speeches inciting more reactions from the Muslim world in order to make some political points.

    September 13, 2012 12:54 am at 12:54 am |
  14. bb

    Obama takes military action in Libya without any consultation with congress. Now he’s reaping what he’s sown. Of course, a few small murders won’t stop him from flying to campaign events. By the way what made Libya so special while hundreds are being killed in Syria? I’m guessing he did it for oil. Sound familiar?

    September 13, 2012 01:20 am at 1:20 am |
  15. Phil Thomas

    Its funny these right wing hate mongers have to get used to four more years of Obama. I got good news for you guys we don't have a king or an emperor so hopefully the GOP will get back to work and stop stonewalling. No way any one sees Mitts as a possible President after yesterday. The world didn't end with his first term in fact your taxes are at an all time low, we got Bin Laden, stopped two wars and our housing, financial, auto sectors are not on life support the way the GOP left them. It takes more than four years to fix an ugly scenerio 800k jobs being lost a month is pretty ugly but I'm glad Mittens not ready for primetime decided to implode and let him finish the job

    September 13, 2012 03:46 am at 3:46 am |
  16. Nicola T.

    Only packed hall because he cancelled an outdoor site that he couldn't fill.

    September 13, 2012 04:14 am at 4:14 am |
  17. ddtrey

    I would tone it down too after the day King Obama had yesterday. Foreign policy was the last pillar still standing for hopes of re-election. Unfortunately for Ambassador Stevens, that pillar came down on Tuesday leaving him dead and King Obama's hope for re-election in the Libyan dirt.

    September 13, 2012 04:20 am at 4:20 am |
  18. Marie MD

    Kudos to the President for understanding the tragic event and how to deal with it while still letting his message reach thousands.
    I won't even, as the mutant from AK said, diminish this story to talk about "that one".

    September 13, 2012 06:24 am at 6:24 am |
  19. jpmichigan

    ENOUGH! of the rhetoric. It took you 24 hours to finally do something, who told you what to say, for you surely couldn't do this on your own. I don't know what has happen to the Democratic Party that I once was proud to be part of, to allow Obam/Biden to run again!

    September 13, 2012 07:51 am at 7:51 am |