In 2008 John McCain made a theatrical but politically ineffective decision to suspend his presidential campaign because of the breaking financial crisis.
But the move was judged as deeply unpresidential and ultimately contributed to his defeat.
On Tuesday night, on the anniversary of 9/11, just hours after the deaths of four U.S. diplomats including the US ambassador to Libya, Mitt Romney released a hastily worded statement calling the president's handling of the Libya and Egypt attacks 'disgraceful.'
Only Sarah Palin and Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus joined Romney in his condemnation, which soon had Republican foreign policy experts calling the GOP nominees' response 'an utter disaster.'
It began when a statement released by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday morning was condemned by Romney as an 'apology for America's values.'
In fact the statement had been issued before the embassy was attacked, contradicting Romney's apology claim.
Critics countered that Romney's actions have left him open to the perception that he was attempting to capitalize politically on the death of a US ambassador and less than 24 hours after his death.
It quickly became clear that the US Embassy's statement did not apologize for America's values
, as Romney had asserted, but instead it defended religious freedom and the 'universal right of free speech.'
So Romney was quite wrong in his accusation that the Obama administration's 'first response' was sympathy for those who actually started the violence; in fact the clashes came after the first statement was published.
'There's a broader lesson to be learned here,' said Obama yesterday. 'Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later and, as president one of the things I've learned is you can't do that. It's important for you to make sure that the statements that you make are backed up by the facts and that you've thought through the ramifications before you make them.'
Asked directly if Romney's attacks were irresponsible, the president replied, 'I'll let the American people judge that.'
Critics, and many of them conservatives, are suggesting Romney's failure to support the President of the United States when our nation is attacked shows that he is willing to put his fate before the nations in order to win an election.
Cartoon by By Bill Schorr