Benghazi becoming political cudgel for GOP

A Libyan security force member stands guard as a placard is pasted on the main entrance of the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, September 18, 2012.

In campaign 2012, both President Obama and Mitt Romney are preparing for Tuesday's second presidential debate: No fund raisers, no major appearances, mostly study.

While that takes place, Republicans continue hammering the president on the administration's handling of the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

To say that the stakes are high in Tuesday's town hall debate could well be an understatement. The president's performance in the first debate was widely criticized, and Romney surged in the polls. He now holds a slight lead over the president.

Under pressure to turn it around, Mr. Obama will also have to defend his response to last months attack in Benghazi, which killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. The administration is under increasing criticism for initially refusing to call the attacks terrorism.

In an exchange with Bob Schieffer on "Face the Nation," Senator Lindsey Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was harsh.

"I think they have been misleading us, but it finally caught up with them," Graham said.

The senator then acknowledged that he was leveling a very serious charge against the Obama administration.

"Either they are misleading the American people or incredibly incompetent. They're very political when it comes to foreign policy," Graham said. "When something goes bad, they deny, they deceive, and they delay."

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Sen. Graham: Libya is "exhibit A of a failed foreign policy"

Libya became an issue last week, especially after Thursday's vice presidential debate when Vice President Joe Biden said the White House wasn't informed of multiple requests for more security at the consulate.

"We weren't told they wanted more security there. We did not know they wanted more security again," Biden said.

Obama campaign adviser David Axelrod, trying to deflect criticism, pointed the finger at Romney: "From the beginning of the issue, before any facts were known, he was cravenly trying to exploit it. And look, that's politics."

For the past month, in his campaign rallies, Romney hasn't really been hitting the administration's evolving response to the attacks -- though he did at the end of the week.

On Sunday, the slain ambassador's father weighed in, telling Bloomberg News in a phone interview: "It would be really abhorrent to make this into a campaign issue."

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    Jan Crawford is CBS News' chief legal correspondent and based in Washington, D.C.