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. Richard

    To keep us safe, President Obama is going after Osama bin Laden, unlike Bush who said he was "just not that concerned about (bin Laden)".

    April 30, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  2. Kimberly from Houston, TX

    Go away GOP! You don't scare me!

    April 30, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  3. Matt: Honestly

    Fear Fear Fear. Blah blah blah. Don't Republicans get it that we are tired of fear tactics? Of course the Democrats are very concerned about keeping us safe. Do you really think anyone goes and says "Hmmm I am not worried about American's safety today. Lets do something to make them less safe." Using stragagies put in place by Republicans is what has made us less safe! Torture does not work! It has been proven time and again. It only makes us more hated across the planet.

    April 30, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  4. Grok

    LOL.

    The republicans are just shooting themselves in the foot. This time they are using a bazooka... yay!

    April 30, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  5. vicki

    Sorry GOP, this its not going to work with American people.

    April 30, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  6. Sherry

    I can't imagine the GOP having the nerve to imply that Democrats are not keeping Americans safe, when the Bush Administration did nothing but damage America's reputation around the world. They led us into a war in Iraq that had NOTHING to do with the 9/11 attacks, but purely about oil and simply made many more enemies and the USA far less safe. Here is a novel idea for the GOP. Stop wasting precious time looking for things to complain about and actually try working together with the Democrats to make the USA a better and much safer place to live, as well as more respected around the world.

    April 30, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. Joe

    These guys are dumb they just did this during the election now they are saying if we dont have secret dungons were we torture and opress people we are all gonna die these guys make me sick this bohner guy should be dong his job not making videos

    April 30, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  8. Joe the Troll

    "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."

    In other words, two of the things he was elected to do.

    April 30, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  9. Dave C - NJ

    I carry a magic keychain that keeps tigers away. Since I have not been attacked by a tiger, it must be working. Just like W's policies that kept us so safe.

    This is such BS I can't even begin to pick it apart.

    April 30, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  10. T. Awo

    Are you kidding me?

    Come to think of it, I actually feel safer knowing that the guy in charge is not a border-line dictator, whose word is law.
    I feel safer knowing that the guy calling the shots realizes the importance of communication and tries to be diplomatic when it is possible.
    I like the fact that when push comes to shove, he will not hesitate to give an executive order (our pirate problem as an example).

    Yes, I feel much, much much safer knowing that the "Party of No" is not in charge.

    April 30, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  11. DT

    Obama is doing fine, Repubs talking out the side of the face as usual...no substance to this...

    April 30, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  12. Caroline

    Boehmer : get a life ! The fear factor does NOT work any more, O.K. ?

    April 30, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  13. Bea from Texas

    Per CNN last night..Obama had a B

    Per CNN this morning, Obama had a B-

    Per CNN, Obama is more popular than his policies.

    CNN, those are all G.O.P talking points.....shame on you

    April 30, 2009 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  14. Marge

    Good night why in the world don't the republicans just stop whining and moaning. They can't be voted out of office quick enough to suit most Americans. Boehner, one of the biggest jokes in the GOP.

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Richard

    "The Fear..."

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  16. Chris

    I just don't get the republican party's dominance on national security. They are the party that allowed 911 under their watch. They are the party that allowed the Taliban resurgance. They are the party that has a hard on for un justified wars. They are the party that likes to thumb their noses at other countries and rename fries as a symbolic gesture. Someone explain to me why they have such a polical "edge" when it comes to foreign policy. Hey Bubba...can you explain that to me?

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  17. Maurice from Ontario

    Oh, yeah, back to the old "fear" tactics and innuendoes! Why can't the Republicans ever think of anything positive to bring to the public? I forgot: the party of "No"!

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  18. Eric

    Good idea on a different approach, attacking Obama on this has really worked out well for the Republicans so far. My guess is they are trying to hang on to the nuttiest of the nut jobs. I wouldn't worry Boehner, they aren't going to leave the hunkered down bunker and gun collections for Obama just yet.

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  19. Stu

    Ahhh, the standard Republican response to everything : fear-mongering.
    I guess that's all they have. No wonder they've lost the last 2 elections in a landslide. 2010 will be no different.

    Again, see your poll results :
    "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."

    The repubs need to stop listening to Fox propoganda, and try watching real news for once.

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  20. thai

    Why doesn't the GOP just go and do something constructive already. Getting sick of these constant attacks especially when the guy is going to be in office for the next 3 years anyway. Go do something already.

    April 30, 2009 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  21. Bleebo

    Get a life. PLEASE. That is why you people are dying out. National Security is the way to go. Stop trying to provoke fear. GOP when are you going to get it? GROW up and act like intelligent people. I know it may sound like a huge task, unless you get your heads screwed on right, we just will have to say BYE BYE, GOP.

    Stop it. Show some intelligence.

    April 30, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  22. Dave C - NJ

    I think we all know the answer to the question they pose...something about a huge troop surge in Afganistan perhaps? lol

    Fear mongering crap.

    April 30, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  23. Edward Veidt

    Yeah... keep that up. Because all that fear-mongering worked SO WELL in November.

    The GOP is falling apart at the seams and is on a direct path to more big losses in '10 and '12. How long can they actually survive this self-induced folly?

    Did they really not notice that the majority of Americans clearly rejected the GOP-as-usual approach last fall? Do they really think that doing more of the things that turn off voters is going to win seats for them?

    Are they thinking of anything at all? Without a major shakeup, the GOP will disband within 10 years. The bleeding is just too much at this point.

    April 30, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  24. Dave NYC

    Hey GOP, ever hear the phrase "Live Free or Die?"

    Americans rejected your Fear Card in the 2008 elections, you can't use that one us anymore!

    ...still waiting for those new ideas. anything? no? come back when you have some.

    April 30, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. Paul, Riverside CA

    Apparently the GOP wants to loose even more seats in the 2010 elections. If they haven't figured out by now that this form of FEAR does not work, they never will.

    This is absolutely the sickest form of low, and the GOP just continue to enjoy the fact that if they can't beat Obama, at least they can beat themselves.

    April 30, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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