The embassy later deleted a statement from its Twitter account in which it said it stood by that statement.
Obama also suggested Romney unfairly blamed local embassy officials.
The Cairo statement “didn’t come from me, it didn’t come from Secretary Clinton; it came from folks on the ground who are potentially in danger,” Obama said.
But Romney was careful to blame the administration, not low-level embassy personnel, for the embassy’s submissive statement.
Romney’s late-night criticism as the clock passed midnight into Sept. 12 said “it is disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
The president’s reversal and defensive maneuvering came after a day of damaging news for Obama.
In Libya, four U.S. officials — including the ambassador — were killed and three were injured late Sept. 11 at an unprotected consulate in Benghazi, far from a contingent of U.S. Marines at the embassy in the capital city of Tripoli.
The Benghazi consulate, however, was guarded by armed Libyans whose behavior prompted one of the four dead U.S. officials to suspect an impending betrayal.
On Sept. 11, the official, Sean Smith, sent an Internet message to a friend in the United States, saying “assuming we don’t die tonight. We saw one of our ‘police’ that guard the compound taking picture,” according to a statement by his friend, dubbed “The Mittani” in an online gaming community.
The next day, Obama tacitly acknowledge the lack of protection by ordering reinforcements to travel to that embassy.
A crowd of Islamists rioted at the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, while urging the release of the so-called “Blind Sheikh” — a top Egyptian jihadi who was jailed by the U.S. in 1995 — and also complaining about the California-produced video.
The rioters invaded the embassy, burned the U.S. flag and hoisted their own jihad banner. They included the brother of al-Qaida’s top leader, and the embassy was left unprotected by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood government, which Obama and his deputies have supported.
The following day, Sept. 12, Egyptian government officials refused to apologize for failing to stop the lengthy attack in downtown Cairo, and instead pressed Obama to punish the producer of the anti-Islam video.
“We ask the American government to take a firm position toward this film’s producers within the framework of international charters that criminalize acts that stir strife on the basis of race, color or religion,” Prime Minister Hisham Kandil said on Sept. 12, according to a Reuters report.