OWENSVILLE, Ohio – Paul Ryan stepped up his criticism of the Obama administration at a rally here, using a more aggressive tone than earlier in the day, saying the “administration sent mixed signals to those who attacked our embassy in Egypt and mixed signals to the world.”
Ryan began, as he did at a town hall in his home state of Wisconsin Wednesday morning, with a moment of silence for the four Americans killed, including Ambassador Chris Stevens, in an attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, Tuesday.
“This is a time for healing,” Ryan said. ”But it’s also a time for resolve. In the face of such a tragedy, we need to be reminded that the world needs American leadership. … The administration sent mixed signals to those who attacked our embassy in Egypt and mixed signals to the world. I want to be clear: It is never too early for the United States to condemn attacks on Americans, on our properties and to defend our values. That’s what leadership is all about.”
The tone more closely reflected Mitt Romney’s approach to the tragedy than it did Ryan’s earlier statements. Romney called the early response by the Obama administration “disgraceful.”
Romney was reacting to messages sent out by the U.S. diplomats in Cairo, who released a statement Tuesday before their mission was attacked criticizing an American-made film that depicts Muhammad, Islam’s founder, in a negative way.
The film later sparked the protest in Cairo and may have led to the deadly attack in Libya.
Romney has been criticized by both the president and other Republicans for issuing a statement before all the details of the attack were known Tuesday.
“It’s important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts,” Obama told CBS’ “60 Minutes,” “and that you’ve thought through the ramifications before you make them.”
In Owensville, Ohio, in front of a few thousand people in a battleground state, Ryan claimed the Obama administration’s policies “project weakness abroad.” He blamed the administration for “undercutting allies like Israel, outreach to enemies like Iran, national security leaks and devastating defense cuts.”
Ryan added, ”A weak America breeds insecurity and chaos around the world. The best guarantee of peace is American strength. And peace through strength will be the Romney-Ryan foreign policy of this country.”
Earlier, outside of Green Bay, Wis., Ryan took a different tone. Instead of mentioning the president by name, he said, “It is very important that a president speak with a singular voice representing our principles and our values. We don’t want people around the world wondering what our values are.”
Ryan’s spokesman, Michael Steel, said the decision to ramp up Ryan’s approach came after a day of “attacks from the president.” Though it was important to recognize the deaths, he also felt it was necessary to respond.
Ryan also criticized the president’s approach to the attacks on both the Libyan and Egyptian U.S. diplomatic missions in an interview to air Wednesday evening.
Ryan told Fox News’ Greta van Susteren that if it was a Ryan-Romney administration he would “not speak in equivocal terms.”
“I disagree with the original statements that the embassy put out – that the administration put out in Cairo sympathizing with the people who were storming the embassy,” Ryan said, referring to a statement the United States mission in Cairo put out before the embassy there was attacked. “We should stand up for our values. We should stand up for our free speech rights and so I think that statement was wrong and the administration was right to walk it back after they had stood by that statement a couple of times.
In excerpts released earlier in the day Thursday, Ryan added: “Our president needs to speak with force and clarity for our principles.”