President Obama during his nomination acceptance speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte (image credit Robyn Beck/Getty)
McLean, VA (written by David Jackson/USA Today) -- President Obama's spokesman criticized Republican claims today that the president referred to the deaths of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans as "bumps in the road."
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama was referring to Middle East unrest in general and called the GOP claim "both desperate and offensive."
The "bumps" comment came after Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes asked the president, "Have recent events in the Middle East given you any pause about your support for the governments that have come to power following the Arab Spring?"
Obama replied, "Well, I'd said even at the time that this is going to be a rocky path."
He added, "The question presumes that somehow we could have stopped this wave of change. I think it was absolutely the right thing for us to do to align ourselves with democracy."
He later said, "I was pretty certain and continue to be ... pretty certain that there are going to be bumps in the road because, you know, in a lot of these places, the one organizing principle has been Islam."
There have been protests at U.S. diplomatic outposts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab nations, inspired in part by an anti-Islam video.
The attack in Benghazi, Libya, included the deaths of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. Investigations are looking into the possibility of a preplanned attack designed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary.
After the airing of the 60 Minutes segment, the Republican Party sent out e-mails asserting: "Obama Described Terrorist Attack In Libya And Unrest Throughout The Middle East As Just Merely "Bumps In The Road."
Republican challenger Mitt Romney and his staff also noted the comment.
"After nearly four years in office, President Obama is eager to make excuses for his failed policies at home and abroad by declaring 'bumps in the road,' " said a statement from Romney spokesman Ryan Williams. "But it's clear Americans can't afford four more years like the last four years under the president's policies. The middle class is in shambles, with fewer good-paying jobs and record poverty, and our nation's security is threatened abroad."
Carney described that criticism as election year rhetoric, saying the Republicans are "reaching for reeds to grab onto."