WASHINGTON - Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney was the loser in a political fight over US reaction to attacks last week on American diplomatic compounds in Libya and Egypt, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Tuesday.

Four in 10 US voters felt less favorably toward Romney after hearing about his criticism of US President Barack Obama's handling of the attacks in which the US ambassador to Libya was killed.

Only 26 percent of the registered voters polled felt worse about Obama after hearing about the Democrat's comments about the violence in the Middle East, the survey said.

"Romney probably did not do anything to shore up his foreign policy cred on this particular issue," Ipsos pollster Julia Clark said, but she noted that foreign policy was typically low on lists of the issues most important to American voters.

Romney took heavy criticism for issuing a statement accusing Obama of sympathizing with Islamists who waged the attacks on US diplomatic compounds in Egypt and Libya.

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