Will Libya Deflate Obama’s Foreign Policy Debate Bump?

US President Barack Obama speaks during a lunch with a group of Obama for America volunteers during a previously unannounced stop at Antonella's Pizzeria Oct. 24 in Davenport, Iowa. (AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN via Getty Images)

A new poll suggests President Obama picked up support after the final presidential debate, but a lingering foreign policy issue — ironically, the topic of that debate — continues to plague his re-election bid.

A new Gallup daily tracking poll that was concluded on Oct. 23, the day after the third debate, shows Romney leading among likely voters 50 percent to 47 percent for Obama.

That is a one-percent increase from the last version of the poll for Obama, and a one-percent drop for Romney.

Among registered voters, Obama leads Romney by one percentage point, 48 to 47. That also is a one-point gain for Obama and a one-point drop for his opponent.

Notably, Obama’s approval ratings climbed after the foreign policy debate. Fifty-three percent of those polled now approve of the job Obama is doing, a two-point climb; 42 percent disapprove, three points lower than in Gallup’s last poll.

But even as Obama’s performance in the debate, during which Romney repeatedly agreed with many of the president’s decisions and foreign policy approaches, one issue from abroad continues to dog him: Libya.

GOP lawmakers and Romney have criticized Obama and his administration for weeks about a Sept. 11 attack on a U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that left the American ambassador and three others dead.

They claim the administration was warned of a potential attack well in advance, and also resisted publicly calling the incident a terrorist attack despite confirmation officials had shortly after.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., and Senate Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., have accused the administration or orchestrating a cover-up.

Now McCain and GOP Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire are again pressing the White House for information.

Internal emails emails “make clear that your administration knew within two hours of the attack that it was a terrorist act and that Ansar al-Sharia, a Libyan militant group with links to Al-Qaeda, had claimed responsibility for it,” the three senators write in an Oct. 24 letter to Obama. “This latest revelation only adds to the confusion surrounding what you and your administration knew about the attacks in Benghazi, when you knew it, and why you responded to those tragic events in the ways that you did.”

The senators, who have been stymied for weeks by the administration in their search for answers, directed a list of questions at Obama, including:

– “Why … did your administration insist that a spontaneous demonstration was responsible for the attack on our consulate, but as the State Department later divulged, no demonstration even occurred in Benghazi?”

– “Why were requests for greater security assistance by officers on the ground not fulfilled, especially in light of the fact that there had already been two attacks on our consulate [this year]?”

– “Why were there no rapid reaction forces or other military assets available in the region to deploy to Libya in the event of an emergency on Sept. 11, 2012 – a day that our intelligence agencies consistently cite far in advance as a moment of heightened security threat for the United States and our citizens and interests abroad?”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett