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Libya disappears from Romney's stump speeches

 

Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney last mentioned Libya in a campaign speech on Oct. 12, according to an NBC News review of his speeches.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tells a crowd in Worthington, Ohio, that the country can't afford another Obama presidency, or another stimulus plan.

Outside of his two debate appearances -- on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22 -- the GOP candidate has eschewed attacking President Barack Obama's handling of the Sept. 11, 2012 attacks on a U.S. diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya at any of his public events.

Romney's last Libya-specific attack on the administration during a campaign event was related to Vice President Joe Biden's explanation of the administration's reaction and changing explanations for the attack, which left four Americans dead, including Ambassador Christopher Stevens.

"We need to understand exactly what happened as opposed to just having people brush this aside," he said. "When the vice president of the United States directly contradicts the testimony, sworn testimony -- of State Department officials -- American citizens have a right to know just what’s going on. And we’re going to find out and this is a time to make sure we do find out."

Romney himself has only referenced Libya since then in his two final debates versus Obama. At the second debate, in New York, Romney slammed the administration's response, saying it "calls into question the president’s whole policy in the Middle East."

But Romney also struggled to respond to moderator Candy Crowley's insistence that Romney had erred on an issue of semantics -- whether Obama had specifically failed to label the attack an "act of terror" in the immediate aftermath of the attack.

In the third debate, this past Monday, Romney barely dwelled on the issue and declined to make an issue of Libya, an issue on which the Republican nominee had campaigned heavily for the better part of a month, until Oct. 12.

Romney adviser Kevin Madden, during a gaggle with reporters on Wednesday traveling with Romney, addressed why the GOP nominee hadn't spoken about Libya.

"Libya is still an issue with many voters, particularly given the conflicting statements from the president and his administration about the nature of the attack. The American people still have unanswered questions," he said.

The issue of the Benghazi attacks haven't died down over the last two weeks; indeed, many conservatives complained Wednesday about insufficient media attention paid to newly-revealed emails showing the State Department had identified messages on social media by extremist groups claiming responsibility for the Benghazi attacks.

Libya hasn't disappeared entirely from the Romney campaign's whole repertoire, either. Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan addressed it on Monday at a rally in Colorado, Romney surrogates have discussed the issue to varying outlets this month, too.

NBC’s Jordan Frasier, Jay Rankin and Matt Loffman contributed reporting