‘Al Qaeda on the path to defeat’ back in Obama stump speech

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- A line about Al Qaeda being on the run is back in President Obama's stump speech, after the president -- briefly, and without explanation -- stopped using it.

The president told a crowd in New Hampshire Thursday that pursuing Al Qaeda was one of his campaign promises kept from 2008.

"Now, I made some commitments four years ago. I told you I'd end the war in Iraq -- and we did. I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan -- we are. I said we'd refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 -- and we have," Obama said.

"And today, a new tower rises above the New York skyline, and Al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Usama bin Laden is dead."

But a day before, that crucial mention of sending Al Qaeda packing was nowhere to be found in the president's stump speech. He skipped the line at a rally in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and again at a campaign event in Athens, Ohio.

During the debate Tuesday night with Mitt Romney, when foreign policy came up, he downplayed Al Qaeda being in remission -- focusing on the efforts to fight the terror organization and the bin Laden kill. "I said we'd refocus attention on those who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have gone after Al Qaeda's leadership like never before and Usama bin Laden is dead," he said at Tuesday's debate in Hempstead, N.Y. 

Since the attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi on Sept. 11, the administration has struggled publicly on the language referring to the assault that killed an American ambassador and three others as a terror attack. With possible links to Al Qaeda, it could be said that the terror organization is not retreating or being defeated. 

"There's no question but that it was a terrorist attack, there is no question but that the security was inadequate and I think that there is no question that we need to work on our intelligence," Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in an interview with a San Francisco CBS station Wednesday.