Mitt Romney: "About time" Qaddafi was killed

Mitt Romney.

Updated: 5:40 p.m. ET

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Thursday heralded the death of Muammar Qaddafi, and said it was "about time" the Libyan dictator met his end.

Romney, speaking to reporters after a campaign event in Iowa, called Qaddafi a "terrible tyrant" and said the world would be a better place with him gone.

"Qadaffi [was a] terrible tyrant that killed his own people and murdered Americans, and others, in the tragedy in Lockerbie," Romney said. "The world is a better place with Qaddafi gone."

"I think it's about time," he added.

When asked later in the day if Mr. Obama deserved any credit for Qaddafi's death the candidate said, "Yes, yes, absolutely."

Texas Gov. Rick Perry, meanwhile, said Qaddafi's death signaled "good news" for the future of Libya.

"The death of Muammar el-Qaddafi is good news for the people of Libya. It should bring the end of conflict there, and help them move closer to elections and a real democracy," he said in a Thursday statement.

Perry said the U.S. should "work closely" with Libya in its transition and argued that the Obama administration must take an "active role in ensuring the security of any remaining stockpiles of Qaddafi's weapons."

"These weapons pose a real danger to the United States and our allies, and we cannot help secure them through simple observation," he said.

Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman echoed that sentiment in a statement, celebrating Qaddafi's "demise" but noting that "it is just one step in a long and tumultuous turnover that is coming to Northern Africa."

"It is my sincere wish that this news accelerates Libya's transition to a society that respects openness, democracy, and human rights," he added. "I remain firm in my belief that America can best serve our interests and that transition through non-military assistance and rebuilding our own economic core here at home."

Sen. John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, said Qaddafi's death signaled the end of "the first phase of the Libyan revolution" and that it would provide an opening for the nation to "focus all of their immense talents" toward a democratic transition.

"While some final fighting continues, the Libyan people have liberated their country," McCain said in a statement. "Now the Libyan people can focus all of their immense talents on strengthening their national unity, rebuilding their country and economy, proceeding with their democratic transition, and safeguarding the dignity and human rights of all Libyans."

"The death of Muammar Qaddafi marks an end to the first phase of the Libyan revolution."

McCain was a vocal supporter of U.S. taking action in Libya, but he was critical of President Obama for taking what he believed to be a "backseat role" in Libya.

Libyan Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril confirmed the death of Qaddafi on Thursday morning, hours after fighting broke out in the former leader's hometown of Sirte, which was considered the last stronghold of Qaddafi loyalists.

"We have been waiting for this moment for a long time," said Jibril in a news conference. "Muammar Qaddafi has been killed."

In television footage from Al-Jazeera, a man who appears to be Qaddafi is pictured bloody and shirtless, and apparently dead.

"Our people in Sirte saw the body," Libyan Information Minister Mahmoud Shammam told The Associated Press. "Revolutionaries say Qaddafi was in a convoy and that they attacked the convoy."

Qaddafi fled Tripoli last August after rebel forces overran the capital and forced his ouster. But forces loyal to the government have maintained a substantial resistance in pockets of the country since then.

On Monday, Libyan rebels captured the loyalist bastion of Bani Walid, and said they had forced Qaddafi's forces into a 700 square yard area in Sirte.

The rebels launched an assault on the area at around 8 a.m., according to reports from the scene. Minutes before the attack, several carloads of Qaddafi loyalists reportedly attempted to flee the area, but many people were apparently killed in the attempt.