Mitt Romney attacked the Obama administration late Tuesday over the attacks on the U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya, claiming its first response was "to sympathize" with the attackers.
An Obama campaign spokesman responded by saying they were "shocked" that Romney would "choose to launch a political attack" shortly after the death of a U.S. official. A State Department officer was killed in Benghazi, Libya, after armed protesters stormed the consulate.
As the controversy built on Tuesday over an amateur video allegedly produced in the U.S. – that shows the Prophet Muhammad having sex and calling for massacres – the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement saying it condemned "efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.
"Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others," it added.
American killed in Libya during protests about Prophet Muhammad video
However an Obama administration official later told Politico that the statement "was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government."