April 30th, 2009
02:30 PM ET
4 years ago

New GOP video hits Obama on terrorism

WASHINGTON (CNN) - House Republican leader John Boehner released a lengthy Web video Thursday suggesting Democrats are not keeping Americans safe - part of what GOP sources tell CNN is a renewed political effort to push a historically winning issue for Republicans: national security.

"We're quite happy to be talking about national security," said a House GOP leadership aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely about internal strategy.

The aide insisted that Republicans have substantive, serious policy differences with President Obama on national security - especially with regard to his approach to dealing with detained terror suspects.

But the GOP aide also conceded Republicans believe those differences have a political upside for them.

"It's an issue that traditionally plays well for us," said the aide.

"From a political perspective, it will be beneficial over the long run."

The campaign-style video, created by a Boehner aide in his Capitol office, begins with the question, "What are Democrats doing to keep America safe?" Then, with ominous music in the background, it splices in sound bites from news reports and Republicans talking about the dangers of President Obama's decision to close Guantanamo Bay, and release Bush-era memos about harsh interrogation techniques.

The video's climax races through images of President Obama hugging the Saudi king, shaking hands with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and ends with an image of the Pentagon burning on 9/11, followed by a final question: "Do you feel safer?"

Boehner spokeswoman Antonia Ferrier defended using the 9/11 image.

"The events of Sept. 11 happened. Pretending they didn't won't make America any safer. And ignoring the fact that it happened is even worse," said Ferrier.

When asked by CNN why he released what some will view as an alarmist video, Boehner replied that he is trying to "push the administration to - to tell us, what is the overarching strategy to take on the terrorists and defeat them and to help keep America safe?"

CNN is told by a GOP source that the idea for the headline-grabbing video was born out of strategy sessions among Boehner, his staff, and other Republican leaders about the fact that they believe President Obama is increasingly politically vulnerable on the issue of terrorism.

That view is shared by Republicans in the Senate as well.

"This is one of those cases where good policy makes good politics," said a Senate GOP leadership aide, in describing their decision to pound away at President Obama closing Guantanamo Bay prison.

In fact, GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell made a rare appearance at a Senate Appropriations hearing Thursday in order to publicly question Defense Secretary Robert Gates about closing Guantanamo Bay.

McConnell chastised Gates about the fact that President Obama announced his decision to shut the prison before making alternative plans for the prisoners there.

"We haven't been attacked against since 9/11. We like that and we'd like for that record to continue," McConnell told Gates.

President Bush successfully won re-election in 2004 by warning voters that his Democratic opponent, John Kerry, would make them less safe.

In 2008, John McCain also tried labeling Barack Obama as an inexperienced leader whose policies on Iraq and other global hotspots would jeopardize America's security.

But that stopped resonating, as the ailing economy took over as voters' most important priority.

Today, economic troubles loom larger than ever, and a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll earlier this month suggested Americans do not agree with Republicans that President Obama is making them less safe.

When asked whether the president's actions increased chances of a terrorist attack in the U.S., only 26 percent said yes, and 72 percent said no.

Republicans insist national security will return to the forefront if they continue to highlight what they call the dangers and unanswered questions about Obama policies.

UPDATE: Democrats dismissed the video. "Is it any wonder that voters and senators alike are running away in droves from the Republican party?" said Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "Looks like they have taken a page from the discredited Rove/Bush/Cheney playbook. This ad is nothing more than a pathetic attempt to play up the politics of fear and smear."


Filed under: John Boehner • President Obama
soundoff (186 Responses)
  1. Abby

    How unpatriotic. Are they giving the enemy a hint that now would be a good time to attack because we aren’t covered? For the record, we are being kept safe unlike early in the pervious administration.

    April 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  2. Seth in Jacksonville, FL

    Back to square one...fear-mongering by the GOP. I am so excited about how great a job Obama is doing. Keep up the good work!

    April 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Justin

    Once again trying (and failing miserably) to use scare tactics. Give it up already.

    April 30, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  4. JD from Moraga, CA

    This is supposed to be "new"? The Grumpy Old Pri!cks have been selling FUD since the minute the President announced his candidacy.

    Once again, they're showing that they have no ideas – just complaints.

    April 30, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  5. Bob

    Wow after noon and the Republicans finally Whine today. But it's in video form... still a whine

    April 30, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  6. Leah-Vancouver

    A Party of NO is now A Party of Fear

    April 30, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  7. Linda from Minnesota

    The republicans have not learned anything – the American people are tired of their fear tactics and we voted for change. They should change too or they will become extinct.

    April 30, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. arithmetic is liberal


    "We're quite happy to be talking about national security," said a House GOP leadership aide, who requested anonymity to speak freely about internal strategy. "It's an issue that traditionally plays well for us," said the aide." "From a political perspective, it will be beneficial over the long run."

    Country First?

    April 30, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  9. tammy

    This video is not constructive, it represents GOP still trying to cover their butts

    April 30, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  10. Sniffit

    At some point, the media needs to start questioning why these guys feel such an incredible need to solidify their hold over their already-convinced base. This video will win over ZERO new converts to their way of thinking, so it's either (a) a complete waste of time and money or (b) an indication that they fear their hold is slipping over the 27-30% of the populace who would vote for them even if they suddenly started claiming crack was a nutricious part of a healthy, well-balanced breakfast.

    April 30, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  11. Tim

    "The events of Sept. 11 happened. Pretending they didn't won't make America any safer. And ignoring the fact that it happened is even worse," said Ferrier.

    ***********************

    But using them in a tacky attack ad is the worst!

    April 30, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  12. IndependentTogether

    9/11 happened on Republican's watch. How can anyone feel safe under Republican *rule*?

    April 30, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  13. tom

    Add torture and war to the republican manifesto along with cutting taxes.Bush and Cheney made us a target for every lunatic fringe except the Republican party.

    April 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. Retired Army in San Antonio

    CNN Posts --- House Republican leader John Boehner released a lengthy Web video Thursday suggesting Democrats are not keeping Americans safe......

    ===========================================================

    The rub here is that the Republicans can never prove that they're right unless there are additional terrorist attacks here in the US.

    Who else besides me see Republicans hoping for this very thing?!?!?!?

    April 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  15. Moderate Democrat

    WASHINGTON (CNN) — House Republican leader John Boehner released a lengthy Web video Thursday suggesting Democrats are not keeping Americans safe — part of what GOP sources tell CNN is a renewed political effort to push a historically winning issue for Republicans: national security.

    Yea, thank goodness the republicans kept us safe on 9/11. We know Rudy didn't let new york get attacked and Bush and Cheney didn't let it happen either. No terrorist attack occurred. It was a figmant of our imagination and those 3000 dead people, they faked it!

    Can you say "Mulligan"?

    April 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  16. Chamorrita, MD

    John Boehner is such an idiot. Clearly he does NOT get the message that VOTERS are not buying this FEAR and SCARE garbage anymore.

    The FACT IS, We got attacked under THEIR WATCH. 9/11 happened under the Republican George W. Bush and Dick Cheney's WATCH!!!

    SO WHAT DOES THAT TELL US? Cheney keeps saying Obama is making us less safe and yet HE did keep America SAFE himself, we got attack because HE ignored the CIA report warning the Bush Administration of the 9/11 attack!!!

    April 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  17. Proud DHS radical

    Sure Obama is serious about protecting Americans from terrorists, he hired Janet Napalitano as his DHS secretary...ha,ha,ha,HA,HA,HA!

    April 30, 2009 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  18. Jane

    Atta boy John, resort to fear & divisiveness – that's a big reason America is in the mess we are in now. It played so well during the 2008 election – I don't see it playing any better in the near future. I would think you should proclaim the republican party will not condone torture. What a bonehead!

    April 30, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  19. Lori from MO

    absolutely disgusting. I hope the GOP rots.

    April 30, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  20. IndependentTogether

    Republicans would love for another 9/11. They care more about their own political survival than the safety of the American people.

    April 30, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  21. andrea

    and they call this rebranding? what a joke they are. and when they talk they don't even have the guts to put there name with it, they request anonymity. they just keep on making fools of them selfes. If they don't have something to complain they are not happy or make something up. they need to get a life. shame on all of them

    April 30, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. Alan

    As a well-known Republican hero from the past would say - well - there ya go again. Nothing new to offer so step BACKWARDS into fearmongering again.

    I'm seriously amazed at how LITTLE the Republican party thinks of we the people. Do they HONESTLY think we're going to buy THIS crap again?

    NOTICE TO THE REPUBLICAN PARTY: We the people want SOLUTIONS. We don't need to hear your fear-mongering whatever-Obama-is-doing-it-must-be-wrong-cause-it-isn't-us-doing-it line of bs. We've heard it too long now. Some even bought into it - TWICE.

    Never again.

    April 30, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Moderate Democrat

    In other words: "Hey, we know how to get into wars, we just have NO CLUE how to win them...we are the republicans!"

    Three planes fly into buildings, 3000 people die. Two wars are started, and eight years into them, NO victory. That's the level of competence a republican brings.

    April 30, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  24. Andi

    message to GOP: you reap what you sow

    April 30, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  25. dave from pa

    The Republicans. The party of NO and FEAR!

    April 30, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
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