Senior Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod on Sunday said "there's no doubt" that Mitt Romney is "working hard to exploit" the terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya for political purposes.
Axelrod didn't disavow Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter's comment last week that "the entire reason" Libya has become a political issue is "because of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan," saying that while it's essential to get to the bottom of the attack, "there's a separate issue of how Governor Romney has handled this."
"[Romney] jumped in right away the day of these attacks with half information in a way that was denounced by both Republicans and Democrats and there's no doubt that he's working hard to exploit this issue," Axelrod said on "Fox News Sunday."
Axelrod pointed to a Bloomberg News interview with the father of slain U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in which 77-year-old Jan Stevens said, “It would really be abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue."
"I think we ought to follow the lead of the ambassador's family and allow this investigation to run and get to the bottom of it and make the adjustments that are necessary," Axelrod said.
"David wait a minute," host Chris Wallace interjected. "This is the first U.S. ambassador that has been killed since 1979, [U.N. Ambassador] Susan Rice came on this show and five others and gave the American people a story that turned out not to be true, and you're saying we shouldn't discuss this? That we should wait for the investigation to be completed?"
"Chris calm down, that's obviously not what I'm saying," Axelrod said. "I'm happy to discuss it with you and I do think that it's worthy of discussion. I think that's different from the manner in which Governor Romney has conducted himself."
Axelrod said that "from the beginning of this issue, before any facts were known, [Romney] was cravenly trying to exploit it."
He said he understood that "in the last three weeks of the campaign...of course Governor Romney's going to be able to be out there talking about this issue."
"The president's concern is to get to the bottom of it, to bring the terrorists to justice and to make whatever adjustments are necessary based on the invest to insure that in the future if there were lapses that those lapses are addressed," Axelrod said.