OWENSVILLE, Ohio (AP) — Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan used a rally in Ohio to criticize the Obama administration's handling of a deadly attack at the U.S. consulate in Libya, saying it sent mixed signals and made America appear weak.
"I want to be clear, it is never too early for the U.S. to condemn attacks on Americans, on our properties and to defend our values," Ryan told a cheering crowd of hundreds at the Clermont County Fairgrounds east of Cincinnati late Wednesday.
"This administration's policies project weakness abroad," he said. "A weak America breeds insecurity and chaos around the world. The best guarantee of peace is American strength, and peace and strength will be the Romney-Ryan foreign policy of this country."
Vice President Joe Biden also was in the swing state earlier in the day and focused his remarks on the attack in Libya that killed a U.S. ambassador and three more Americans, saying there's "no place in the civilized world" for such "senseless murder."
The Democrat opened a rally Wednesday at Wright State University with a message of mourning for those killed the previous day. He said it's a reminder of the dangers faced by U.S. diplomats abroad.
"Let me be clear: We are resolved to bring to justice their killers," he said.
He added that the United States remains committed to its mission abroad.
"We never have been and we will not be run off. Period," Biden said.
The vice president spoke to hundreds of people at the southwest Ohio college where Republican then-presidential candidate John McCain introduced Sarah Palin as his running mate in the 2008 race. Biden's audience included comedian Dave Chappelle, who has a home in nearby Yellow Springs.
The vice presidential candidates' comments echoed words from President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, who traded barbs over the Libyan attack.
Both candidates have been regular visitors to the state, where Ryan attended college at Miami University in Oxford, about an hour away from where he spoke Wednesday.
Polls have indicated a tight race, with Obama slightly ahead in Ohio, a state considered likely to be crucial to Romney's chances of unseating him.
Ryan told his supporters that they need to make sure to show up to the polls come November.
"You are the Buckeye State, you are Ohioans. You know what that means," Ryan said. "You're used to being paid attention to a lot. ... You have a special responsibility, a special opportunity — you more than most other Americans get to decide which of these two futures we're going to have."
Obama carried Ohio in 2008 after George W. Bush had won the state twice.
Both Obama and Romney have visits planned to the state.
Sewell reported from Dayton, Ohio.