Mitt Romney is prepared to push President Barack Obama to "man up" and answer for his administration's handling of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya during Tuesday's debate, a foreign policy adviser for the Republican candidate said in an interview.
Speaking to Fox News on Tuesday morning, William Richardson, one of Romney's top advisers, predicted that Romney would continue his attempt to keep the issue front and center, and even "ask the president to man up, accept his responsibility and explain to the people the failure that resulted in four American deaths."
The two candidates are set to partake in their second face-to-face meeting at a town hall-style debate at Hofstra University in New York on Tuesday, more than a month after an attack on an American consulate in Benghazi took the lives of four U.S. personnel, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.
The Romney campaign and other Republicans have recently sought to characterize conflicting reports about the nature of that attack as evidence that Obama mishandled the situation and is weak on foreign policy. They have suggested that the administration first failed to provide adequate security to the compound, and then orchestrated a diversion involving an anti-Islam YouTube video to distract from the actual situation.
"I take responsibility," Clinton said in a written statement. "I'm in charge of the State Department's 60,000-plus people all over the world [at] 275 posts."
She went on to back up a claim Vice President Joe Biden made during his debate against GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan last week, saying that the "president and the vice president certainly wouldn't be knowledgeable about specific decisions that are made by security professionals."
In a later interview with Fox News, Clinton said the administration's divergent explanations for the attack were consequences of the "fog of war."
But Williamson appeared to suggest that Clinton's comments wouldn't be enough to shield Obama from potential criticism at Tuesday's debate.
“The administration has to come clean,” he said. “It is a presidential-level decision protecting our diplomats overseas. It's the president's obligation to make sure that diplomats in difficult situations have adequate security so they can do their job, and clearly they failed here.”
For more on what to watch for during tonight's debate, click here.