Washington: After Vice President Joe Biden, it's now the turn of the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to save the president under attack from his Republican challenger Mitt Romney over the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
The bucks stops with her when it comes to who is blame for a deadly assault on the US mission on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she said in a series of interviews ahead of the second presidential debate in New York.
Clinton, who as America's top diplomat has stayed away from the campaign, insisted Obama and Biden are not involved in security decisions. "I want to avoid some kind of political gotcha," she added, noting that it is close to the election.
"I take responsibility" for what happened Sep 11, Clinton said soon after arriving in Lima, Peru for a visit.
The interview, one of a series given to US television networks Monday night, were the first she has given about the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi. The attack killed Chris Stevens, the US ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans at the consulate.
The Obama administration has been heavily criticized after Biden said during last week's vice presidential debate that the White House did not know of requests to enhance security at Benghazi, contradicting testimony by State Department employees that requests had been made and rejected.
Following the debate, the White House said the vice president did not know of the requests because they were handled, as is the practice, by the State Department.
Clinton also sought to downplay the criticism that administration officials continued to say the attack was a spontaneous product of a protest over an anti-Muslim film, a theory that has since been discarded.
In the wake of an attack, there is always "confusion," Clinton said. But the information has since changed.
Clinton said her mission now is to make sure such an attack will never happen again - but also that diplomacy, even in dangerous areas like Benghazi, is not stopped.
"We can't not engage," she said. "We cannot retreat."