OWENSVILLE, Ohio -- A tragedy in Libya bridged political lines during campaign stops in Ohio on Wednesday, as America's two vice-presidential candidates honored and mourned the Americans killed in a raid on the American consulate there.
Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan led their audiences in tributes to the four slain Americans, with only Mr. Ryan hinting at the political fireworks at home that followed the news of the attack.
"All Americans are saddened and shocked today by what we saw in the Middle East. These deaths are horrific, our hearts are heavy," Mr. Ryan said at a rally in the rural Cincinnati suburb of Owensville.
Vice President Biden campaigned earlier Wednesday at Wright State University in Fairborn, a suburb of Dayton, honoring the four victims as "dedicated, courageous."
"We are resolved to bring to justice their killers. There is no place in the civilized world for senseless murder like occurred last night. They are not only mourned by Americans but also mourned by the vast majority of Libyan people whom they fought for," Mr. Biden said.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's criticism of the Obama Administration's response to demonstrations against American diplomatic facilities in Egypt and Libya were rejected by the President and not backed up by some in his own party.
"The world needs American leadership. The administration sent mixed signals to those who attacked our embassy in Egypt and mixed signals to the world. It is never too early for the United States to condemn attacks on Americans, on our properties, and to defend our values," Mr. Ryan said.
He accused the current administration of projecting weakness abroad, and said that "peace through strength will be the Romney-Ryan foreign policy of this country."
Although the two candidates campaigned about 60 miles apart on the ground, they were 180 degrees apart on policy.
Mr. Biden addressed an audience estimated at 1,000 in Wright State University's Student Union. He said he and the President were committed to creating jobs in the United States, and he highlighted Toledo.
"Folks, we've set a goal -- creating 1 million new manufacturing jobs by 2016. And we want to keep that going by ending the tax loopholes that encourage companies, whether in my home state or the state of Ohio, or wherever they are, [for] getting a tax break for unbolting machinery on the floor in Toledo and taking it to China," Mr. Biden said.
"The President and I believe our job is to strengthen the economy, broaden opportunity, and unlike our friends, we think what we should be doing is promoting the private sector, not the privileged sector," Mr. Biden said.
He disputed the Romney-Ryan campaign that has said America is in decline under President Obama.
"America is better positioned today than any time in the recent past to be the most dominant economy in the 21st century," Mr. Biden said.
The vice president lambasted Republicans in Congress for what he said was obstructing every effort to balance the budget that doesn't involve a tax increase, including the Simpson-Bowles commission to reduce the deficit.
Several commentators have pointed out that President Obama also failed to get behind the recommendations of Simpson-Bowles.
Chris Maloney, spokesman for the Romney campaign in Ohio, said Mr. Biden is misrepresenting Mr. Romney's positions.
"After last week's devastating jobs report, the last thing we need is more taxes. Mitt Romney has a plan to lower rates across the board, spur investment, and create 12 million new jobs," Mr. Maloney said. "Ohioans know better than to fall for these debunked falsehoods and petty distractions from the President's allies."
Mr. Ryan claimed the President and his supporters are more worried about their re-election than the future of the country.
He cited Europe's debt crisis and reprised the sports analogies that flew back and forth last week between Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama.
"It's the most predictable economic crisis we've ever had, and yet the President has completely punted on this issue," Mr. Ryan said.
He said the President has no record to run on.
"Hope and change have become attack and blame," Mr. Ryan said.
Obama campaign spokesman Jessica Kershaw said President Obama is "laying the foundation for a rural economy built to last -- one that invests in reclaiming rural, middle class security and restoring the basic values of fairness and opportunity that make our country great.
"Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney's plan would gut rural America's economic security at a time when we need it the most, cutting investments in rural infrastructure, and turning Medicare into a voucher program," Ms. Kershaw said.
The intensive political spotlight on swing state Ohio is to continue Friday when Mr. Romney returns for a fund-raiser in Cuyahoga County and to speak at a campaign rally at Lake Erie College in Painesville, Ohio, while President Obama is to campaign on Monday in Columbus and Cincinnati.
Contact Tom Troy at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 419-724-6058.