Congressmen Call Hearing On Libya Security Measures

Hearing comes as a new poll says voters still trust Obama over Romney on foreign policy.

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Republican lawmakers called on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Tuesday to answer their questions on security shortcomings in Libya, also scheduling an emergency House Oversight and Government Reform hearing next week to discuss the administration's failures, even though Congress is not in session.

Two Republicans, California Rep. Darrell Issa and Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, have charged that the consulate in Benghazi faced multiple security threats prior to the September attacks, but that the Obama administration failed to appropriately respond.

"Multiple U.S. federal government officials have confirmed to the [oversight] committee that, prior to the September 11 attack, the U.S. mission in Libya made repeated requests for increased security in Benghazi," Issa and Chaffetz wrote in a letter to Clinton. "The mission in Libya, however, was denied these resources by officials in Washington."

Republicans have accused the Obama administration of downplaying the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans for political gain. U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice initially said the tragedy was a spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim film.

[RELATED: Libya Attack Leads to Mud Fight on the Hill]

Republicans pounced and the Obama team relented, eventually admitting that the incident was indeed a calculated terrorist attack.

An FBI team is just now accessing the crime scene and conducting an investigation.

"That emerging narrative that has come out of Libya has made President Obama's position on national security more muddled," says Jamie Fly, executive director of the Foreign Policy Initiative. "I think you will see Gov. Romney highlighting the issue more in upcoming weeks."

Before the attack on the consulate, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney had stayed away from discussing foreign policy, choosing instead to dedicate his time to the economy.

But recently Republicans have reengaged, sensing vulnerability in the Obama administration's national security armor.

They have made the case that Obama's administration has lost its grip overseas, pointing to the administration's failure to address security threats in Libya and quell violent protests across the Middle East.

"I think there is a mixed picture here," Fly says. "Foreign policy is an issue that is up for grabs now because of the way Obama handled the situation in Libya."

Despite erupting unrest, a dead ambassador, and an ongoing and unpopular war in Afghanistan, a Quinnipiac survey released Tuesday reveals Americans still have more faith in Obama's foreign policy plan than Romney's.

[RELATED: Diplomat Recalls Similar 1967 Benghazi Attack]

Voters trust Obama 50 percent to 44 percent on national security, and when it comes to handling an international crisis, the president maintains a nine point lead over Romney.

More revealing is that voters say if they or their family were at risk in a foreign country, 50 percent would want Obama in the White House negotiating on their behalf.

"He's the president, and being in that position is an obvious advantage," says Peter Brown, the assistant director of the Quinnipiac Polling Institute. "Killing Osama bin Laden also helped his bona fide lead on national security and foreign affairs, which have not been big issues so far."

The take down of bin Laden remains one of the landmark accomplishments of the Obama administration in voters' minds, and is a big reason why voters continue to give the president support on foreign policy.

Justin Logan, director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, points out that while the Obama administration hasn't handled the situation in Libya flawlessly, Romney botched his chance to gain an edge when he criticized Obama in the wake of a national tragedy.

"I think it was a crude attempt that was seen to wring political advantage out of a tragedy, and that left a sour taste in people's mouths," Logan says. "He didn't look presidential."

Logan argues, even before that, the Romney campaign struggled to gain an advantage on national security issues because of ghosts of administrations past.