As the unrest and violence escalate in the Middle East, flags in the United States and in Houston were flying at half-staff on Thursday.

Many people are also focusing on presidential politics and wondering if the crisis will have an impact on the upcoming presidential election.

In Washington Thursday, Republicans backing Mitt Romney questioned President Barack Obama's leadership.

Locally, the chairman of the GOP said the president has failed.

"It's time for a president who will stand up and tell the rest of the world he's proud to be an American," said Jared Woodfill. "He's proud of our country, proud of our history instead of going around the world apologizing."

However, Lane Lewis, the chair of the Harris County Democratic Party, said the crisis has revealed the president's true character.

"We got to see President Obama as we have many times before -- a strong leader and decisive. On the other hand, you saw Mitt Romney -- impulsive and dangerously erratic," said Lewis.

Many critics have also accused the president of being sympathetic to the Muslim rioters, but that isn't reflected in national political polls.

The NBC/Wall Street Journal poll indicates the president has a significant advantage over Romney on national security and foreign policy.

"Historically foreign policy has played a very limited role in how voters make their choice in terms of choosing the next president," said Rice University political professor Mark Jones. "So I wouldn't expect it to have a long term impact."