The dominant theme of Obama's U.N. speech will be his response to the protests raging in places across the Middle East and North Africa. As he has for days, Obama will condemn the violence, defend democratic principles of free speech and promise no U.S. withdrawal of outreach.
Much of the growing ire is aimed at the United States because of anti-Islam film produced in this country, but the White House has now deemed the attack on its consulate in Libya a "terrorist attack" and has not ruled out the possibility it was premeditated. Obama now says it "wasn't just a mob action."
"There are no words that excuse the killing of innocents," Obama says in the speech excerpts. "There is no video that justifies an attack on an embassy. There is no slander that provides an excuse for people to burn a restaurant in Lebanon, or destroy a school in Tunis, or cause death and destruction in Pakistan."
In a preview of Obama's speech, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton appealed Monday for Muslims to show "dignity" as they protest the film denigrating the Prophet Muhammad.
"Dignity does not come from avenging insults," she said in a speech to her husband's Clinton Global Initiative. Romney and Obama were to speak there as well on Tuesday.
The secretary of state was also standing in for Obama, meeting with the presidents of Afghanistan, Egypt, Libya and Pakistan. She was due later in the week to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.
For U.S. presidents, the yearly United Nations address is always laced with domestic politics even though the speeches are scripted without campaign references. Wars and the failed attempts at Mideast peace have dominated in recent years.
Romney's campaign made the campaign linkage directly Monday.
"On the eve of his United Nations address, President Obama's foreign policy is in disarray," spokesman Ryan Williams said. "As president, Mitt Romney will repair our relationships abroad and create a safer, more secure nation."
Polling shows Obama has a clear edge over Romney when voters are asked who they think is a stronger leader and would better protect the country.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee contributed to this story.
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