Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a mea culpa Tuesday for the deadly Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which claimed the lives of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others.
"I take responsibility," Clinton said to CNN's Elise Labott, after arriving in Peru on a diplomatic visit.
The Obama administration has taken fire in recent weeks over its original claims that the attack resulted from a spontaneous protest in front of the consulate, stemming from outrage over the anti-Islamic film "The Innocence of Muslims." The State Department has since backed away from those claims, confirming last week that there had been no protest at the consulate's gates, and that the attack appeared to have been premeditated by extremist elements. Reports that security requests in the months leading up to the attack were denied have added fuel to the fire.
The Romney campaign, for its part, has seized on the attack, and the administration's response, as a way to challenge the president's foreign policy credentials.
During last week's vice presidential debate, and with pressure mounting, Joe Biden claimed the White House had no knowledge of security requests, a statement that many said contradicted State Department testimony made in Congress just one day earlier. On Monday, Clinton backed up Biden's claim.
Clinton insisted President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden are not involved in security decisions, Clinton said.
"I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.