U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton advised an audience in Tunisia on Saturday to "not pay attention" to the comments made by candidates vying for the Republican presidential nomination, saying the often overheated rhetoric of the campaign doesn't reflect U.S. policy.
Speaking at a town-hall style event in Tunisia, the North African nation that sparked the "Arab Spring" revolts, Clinton said the partisan remarks made during campaign events "certainly don't reflect the United States, don't reflect our foreign policy, don't reflect who we are as a people."
Clinton's remarks came in response to a question from a member of her audience who said he was troubled by some of the comments, which he considered anti-Muslim, made by candidates running for president.
"If you go to the United States, you see mosques everywhere, you see Muslim-Americans everywhere. That's the fact. So I would not pay attention to the rhetoric," she said.
Instead, she advised people to listen instead to President Obama.
"I think that will be a very clear signal to the entire world as to what our values are," Clinton said.
She added that she is sometimes surprised that people around the world pay more attention to what's said in U.S. political campaigns than do most Americans.
"I think you have to shut out some of the rhetoric and just focus on what we're doing and what we stand for and particularly what our president represents," Clinton said.
Obama has come under fierce criticism from Republicans for apologizing for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan.
GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich said while campaigning that the apology was "astonishing" and that Obama "has gone so far at appeasing radical Islamists that he is failing in his duty as commander in chief,"
American military officials say the burning of the Muslim holy books was a mistake, but it has sparked days of violent protests across Afghanistan.