Critics say Obama’s response to the Christmas Day plot by Abdulmutallab was late and trepid, and analysts believe terrorism has become the Democrats’ and Obama’s central political vulnerability.

A senior GOP strategist says the current focus on national security is a challenge for the administration because terrorists are so unpredictable. “It’s driven by events,” he says, “and there’s a lot of volatility among voters. The issue rises or dissipates depending on whether there are other attacks. The biggest problem for the president is under­reacting versus overreacting.”

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