Stopping just short of calling the Obama administration's handling of the Libya attack a cover-up, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said that the president "hasn't wanted to level" and come "clean" with what really happened during the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were killed this month.
"The White House and the President are continuing not to admit what their own administration is saying, and I think it is pretty clear that they haven't wanted to level with the American people," Romney said this evening in an interview on Fox News taped today in Dayton, Ohio. "We expect candor from the President and transparency, and he continues to refuse what is said by the other members of his administration. This was a terrorist attack. We were attacked, apparently, by al Qaeda and it is a very troubling development."
White House press secretary Jay Carney used the word "terrorism" last week for the first time to describe the attack. Romney said as soon as the White House learned it was terrorism they should have said so, and not waited as long as they did to reveal it to the American people.
"I can't ascribe exactly what the motives were for the President and the administration of not coming clean very early on, pointing out that that stage, the very early days they didn't know exactly what had happened, but as soon as they learned, as the intelligence community has indicated that this was a terrorist attack, they should have acknowledged that as opposed to continuing to pretend that this was something other than that."
Romney said that he believes leaders in the Obama administration "want to do their very best to keep the people of American from understanding exactly what happened."
Rep. Paul Ryan, who was also interviewed, said that it's up to Americans to decide "whether this was a cover-up or not."
"I think you would want to ask that question of the President, why he is not on the same page with his own administration officials who are saying that this was a terrorist attack," Ryan said. "I think as facts unfold, we will get to the bottom of this."