VAN METER, Iowa -- Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he had actually met one of the Navy SEALs to have been killed in the Sept. 11 attacks on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Evan Vucci / AP
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney shakes hands during a campaign rally, Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2012, in Van Meter, Iowa.
A day after delivering a major foreign policy speech -- which included sharp criticism of President Barack Obama's response to the terrorist attack -- Romney acknowledged having met the SEAL, Glen Doherty, during a past holiday party.
"This is kind of a strange story so bear with me here," Romney told an audience on a farm outside of Des Moines. He went on to say that he and his wife, Ann Romney, had been invited to a neighborhood Christmas party a few years ago, but they inadvertently went to the wrong party.
"We were a little embarrassed, but they treated us well nonetheless. And I got to meet some really interesting people," Romney continued.
One of them, Romney said, was a former Navy SEAL from Romney's home state of Massachusetts.
"He told me that he keeps going back to the Middle East," Romney recalled.
"He cares very deeply about the people there. He served in the military there, went back from time to time to offer security services and so forth to people there. You can imagine how I felt when I found out that he was one of the two former Navy SEALS killed in Benghazi on September 11th."
The events in Benghazi have become a charged issue in the campaign, as Obama defends himself against charges that the consulate was poorly protected.
The attack resulted in the death of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, the first ambassador killed in the line duty in three decades. Three other Americans were killed, including two former U.S. Navy SEALs working as security contractors.
The Romney campaign later confirmed to reporters that the man Romney met at that party in La Jolla, CA, several years ago was Doherty, of Winchester, Mass.
A neighbor of Romney's reached out to the candidate last week to notify Romney of the coincidence. Doherty's sister said the campaign had notified her family that Romney would speak about the late SEAL, and the family set up a foundation in his honor in anticipation of the mention.