"I guess when u win a Nobel Peace Prize for doing nothing," tweeted former Bush White House press secretary Ari Fleischer, "an attack that kills an Ambassador is just a 'bump in the road.'"
Other Republicans and conservatives, including officials from the Romney campaign, similarly criticized the president.
Fleischer was referring to this exchange on CBS' "60 Minutes" this evening:
STEVE KROFT: "Have the events that took place in the Middle East, the recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?"
PRESIDENT OBAMA: "Well, I'd said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path. the question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy, universal rights - a notion that - people have - to be able to - participate - in - their own governance. But I was pretty certain and continue to be pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because - you know, in a lot of these places - the one organizing principle - has been Islam.
"The one part of society that hasn't been controlled completely by the government. There are strains of extremism, and anti Americanism, and anti western sentiments. And you know can be tapped into by demagogues. There will probably be some times where we bump up against some of these countries and have strong disagreements, but I do think that over the long term we are more likely to get a Middle East and north Africa that is more peaceful, more prosperous and more aligned with our interests."
A senior administration official e-mailed me this evening about those criticizing the president's remarks:
"1) It's just not true that he was characterizing the attack in Benghazi - the question doesn't even make mention of it. He's speaking about broad trends.
"2) Take a look at his answer - what is there to disagree with? We are holding true to our values. We face entrenched strains of extremism. We will benefit from a region that is more peaceful.
"3) This is clearly a rocky path - the point he also makes clearly is that we have an interest in democratic transitions succeeding."
- Jake Tapper