HARRISONBURG, Va. and PAINESVILLE, Ohio -– Moments after the bodies of four American diplomats killed in Libya arrived in the United States, the Republican candidates held separate campaign rallies in two battleground states, where each paid tribute to the fallen Americans.
They also refrained from criticizing President Obama's foreign policy -- for the first time since the current Middle East unrest began.
“In the last few moments, the bodies of four individuals who were killed in the service of our nation were brought back to the United States and welcomed home and placed in hearses. And one of the reasons that we delayed my coming out is I wanted to make sure to have my hand over my heart in recognition of these men and women,” Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, told a crowd in rainy Painesville, Ohio.
“I'd ask that you might each place your hand over your heart in recognition of the blood shed for freedom by them and by our other sons and daughters who've lost their lives in the cause of America and the cause of liberty," Romney asked the crowd at Lake Erie College.
His running mate, Paul Ryan, also asked those in attendance at the Republican vice presidential nominee’s rally in the Shenandoah Valley, to pause and remember the fallen “heroes.”
“I'd like to ask for a moment of silence for our Ambassador Christopher Stevens, Sean Smith, Glenn Doherty, and Tyrone Woods,” Ryan said. “Let's have a moment of silence in prayer and recognition for these heroes.”
President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had just concluded remarks at Andrew’s Air Force Base, during which the president praised the four fallen Americans as “patriots.”
“They loved this country and they chose to serve it and served it well,” the president said during the Transfer of Bodies ceremony.
The four Americans -- including the U.S. ambassador to Libya -- were killed Tuesday after the U.S. consulate in Benghazi came under attack. Protestors also breached the U.S. embassy in Egypt on Sept. 11
A political firestorm in the United States ensued between the Republican candidates and the White House over handling of the attacks, but for a moment at least today, that battle was muted.