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Paul Ryan Calls for ‘Moral Clarity’ in Middle East Relations

At a Values Voter Summit here in Washington, D.C., today, Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan addressed the ongoing tumult in the Arab world by calling for “consistent American leadership” and “moral clarity” in U.S. foreign policy.

Ryan’s remarks on national security primarily identified the struggles of the embattled region but did not include a detailed outline of the foreign policy approach of a potential Romney/Ryan administration. He did imply President Barack Obama is an equivocator on matters of international concern.

“All of us are watching events closely, but we know who America is dealing with in these attacks: They are extremists who operate by violence and intimidation. And the least equivocation or mixed signal only makes them bolder,” Ryan told an elated crowd of Christian voters packed into a hotel ballroom.

“Amid all these threats and dangers, what we do not see is steady, consistent American leadership,” the Wisconsin lawmaker continued. “In the days ahead, and in the years ahead, American foreign policy needs moral clarity and firmness of purpose. Only by the confident exercise of American influence are evil and violence overcome.”

Ryan’s lack of specifics on what campaign aides have dubbed the Romney/Ryan “peace through strength” approach to foreign policy likely was intentional after a series of blunders this week regarding the Middle East violence has left the campaign reeling.

On Tuesday, Romney attacked the Obama administration for a statement released by the American embassy in Cairo condemning the anti-Islamic video widely considered to have incited the riots there. Though the former Massachusetts governor has since denounced the video, his previous statements came under intense scrutiny as they were made before reports that four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, had been killed in a violent attack on an American compound in Benghazi.

Before Ryan took the stage today, his introducer, conservative talk-show host Bill Bennett, read Romney’s original charge accusing the administration of “sympathizing” with American attackers aloud to the audience. The crowd then gave a standing ovation.

Ryan identified what he believed to be weaknesses created by the current administration: “the slaughter of brave dissidents in Syria,” “mobs storming American embassies and consulates,” “Iran four years closer to gaining a nuclear weapon,” and “Israel, our best ally in the region, treated with indifference bordering on contempt by the Obama administration.”

As he was speaking, multiple media outlets began reporting that protesters may have set fire to the American embassy in Tunisia.