Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) - President Barack Obama added the words "al Qaeda" back in to his stump speech Thursday after a shift in the language he used to describe terrorists on the campaign trail.
"I made some commitments four years ago. I told you I would end the war in Iraq and we did it. I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan, we are. I said we'd refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and we have. And today a new tower rises above the new York skyline and al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead," Obama said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. A city official estimated 6,000 people attended the event at a park in the city's downtown.
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The phrase "al Qaeda is on the path to defeat" was the notable addition to his remarks. Obama has often used the phrase "al Qaeda is on the run" when describing his national security bona fides, most recently last Thursday in Miami.
"I said we'd refocus on the people who actually attacks us on 9/11 and today, al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead," he said.
But at stops in Iowa and Ohio Wednesday, Obama used a different descriptor, dropping the "al Qaeda" reference.
"I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan and we are, I said we'd focus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have, and bin Laden is dead," he said.
The president's foreign policy critics said the apparent change was a sign he is acknowledging the administration mishandled their public response to the attack in Libya.
The White House said earlier Thursday that nothing shifted in their analysis of al Qaeda.
White House National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told CNN, "Our assessment that we have decimated al Qaeda leadership is unchanged."
"Dozens of their senior leadership have been taken off the battlefield as a result of the president's anti-terror policies," Vietor said. "We know affiliates like al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula will seek to target us and that's why we go after them relentlessly."
When asked about the different language aboard Air Force One Thursday en route Manchester, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed Vietor's sentiments.
"Our efforts against al Qaeda have inarguably led to success and progress but the work is not yet done," he told reporters, according to the pool report.