Updated 7:45 a.m. ET
(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney criticized the Obama administration in the wake of attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya on Tuesday, branding as "disgraceful" an early response to the assault in Cairo and saying it sympathized with the attackers.
The remarks were quickly rebuked by President Obama's campaign.
The assaults were linked to a trailer posted online of an anti-Muslim movie. The trailer is being promoted by an extreme anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian in the U.S. The movie was made by a filmmaker who told The Associated Press he's Israeli and Jewish, but has also been described by the AP as an American citizen.
Protesters say the video posted on the Internet attacks Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo to replace the American flag with an Islamic banner. In the Libyan city of Benghazi, protesters shot at, burned and looted the U.S. consulate. Four Americans, including Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens, were killed in the assault.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo initially issued a statement saying, in part, that it condemns "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions." The statement, an apparent reference to the video, was posted hours before the first of the four American deaths in Libya were reported.
In a statement Tuesday night, when only one death had been confirmed and before it was known that the ambassador was among those killed, Romney said he was outraged by the attacks and the death of the American consulate worker. He added, "It's disgraceful that the Obama administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
In response, also before word was out that there had been four deaths, Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt said in an email early Wednesday, "We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Gov. Romney would choose to launch a political attack."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a statement released about the same time as Romney's, condemned the attack in Libya "in the strongest terms."
"Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet," Clinton said. "The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. Our commitment to religious tolerance goes back to the very beginning of our nation. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind."