Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" he was confident the Obama administration would rise to the challenge and might even win some support.
"I think that the president of the United States is the commander in chief. The American people look to him, and I'm sure he will conduct himself and play his leadership role in a fine fashion," said McCain. "So I would imagine that might help him a little bit. But I'm not sure it will affect votes."
McCain said the long campaign has been anchored on the economy and was now also becoming more focused on foreign policy, particularly since the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya.
"This tragedy turned into a debacle and massive cover-up or massive incompetence in Libya is having an effect on the voter because of their view of the commander in chief," McCain said.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Obama's former White House chief of staff, defended the president's reaction to Benghazi, describing it as aggressive and aimed at tracking down the terrorists who carried out the assault.
Emanuel said Obama's foreign policy record included a roster of successes including winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and isolating Iran over its nuclear program.
Emanuel said "America's leadership has never been stronger."