April 30th, 2009
02:30 PM ET
8 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. Will-South Dakota


    April 30, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. MattD

    This shouldn't be that surprising. It's basic political manuevering: when you can't win the debate, change the subject.

    Whipping an old horse makes them look even more like Republican'ts.

    April 30, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  3. FreeNLovIt

    We're hungry. We're not thinking too much about national security. We're thinking about social security.

    April 30, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  4. Matt

    Please, Boehner. The terrorist attack rate on US soil for this president compared to the last one is down 300%!

    Yes, stats lie...

    April 30, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  5. Jim

    "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.

    Yes, and the events happened under republican leadership – so quit running on it!!!

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  6. Retired US ARMY

    Trust me the actions taken by the last Administration did not make America safer. They ran an on going campaign based on spreading fear rather than awarness, isolationalism rather than communication. Alienating foreign governments does not aid in the fight, refusing to talk to governments that have differing ideas does not aid in the fight. Building fences and closing borders may make you feel better for a few minutes but those actions to not work and do not aid in the fight. I feel much safer going through airports today knowing that breast milk in a bottle in excess of however many ozs it is can not be brought on to a airplane, not to mention the toothpaste and mouth wash.

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  7. Dave in Albuquerque

    And what's the actual track record? The 9-11 attack happened on Bush's watch, despite his having been in office seven full months. In the first three full months of Obama's watch, no attacks. So far it's the Republicans who need to apologize for their national security credentials, not the Dems.

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  8. Mr. Sparkle

    The GOP is the new Enemy Combatant.

    Even Osama Bin Laden has only harsh words, with a simple, continous shot of him, sitting in front of a rock, not too terrorizing to see it.

    Republicans are the one's actually trying to terrorize Americans. Republicans are CREATING fear. Instead of oxygen, they breathe, then dispense fallacies, such as, "we haven't been attacked since 9/11"...no we haven't, and we haven't won the war, which had no connection to 9/11 either...

    At least it ends with the shot of the burning Pentagon, to help remind the viewer that it was the Republicans and Bush who were in charge when all this happened.

    "Do you feel safer?" with the Republicans trying to scare the $#!+ out of you?

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  9. Dalton

    Unless the GOP is planning to launch a terrorist attack this effort will fail faster than John McCain's candidacy.

    Americans are too worried about losing their homes, jobs and retirement accounts to focus on the remote possibility that some terrorist will strike America.

    The real terrorist who attacked America are Bush and Cheney who sat idly by while our manufacturing base and economy were shipped to China and India

    The GOP is becoming a running joke. Whats next an attack ad focused on Michelle Obama and their daughters. No wonder clear thinking Americans are abandoning the republican party in droves

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  10. chuck

    Yes, why address issues on the economy or health care or jobs, people don’t care about those issues.

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  11. John

    Republicans know about terrorism.

    It's happened alot on their watch.

    April 30, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  12. Darlene

    Here we go again ......BOO BOO BOO...are you cared yet...vote republican...how lame.

    April 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  13. slipthalo

    Repetition of the 2004 Presidential campaign – more fear tactics. Don't they understand the old Rovian tricks won't work anymore? It would be nice if they could come up with some fresh new ideas but that's evidently asking far too much of them.

    April 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  14. Dylan from MN

    For some reason Republicons think that being defiant, arrogant and un-diplomatic is better for our national security. We're connected to the whole world therefore we should be open, respectful and diplomatic to the whole world. Republican ideology= out-dated and barberic, FACT!

    April 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  15. Simp

    Boehner(bonehead) and the rest of this loser party are digging their holes even deeper. Nobody listens to them because they are doing nothing productive but criticizing and spitting out negative comments. It's so obvious who is running this sinking ship of a party, fat boy rush.
    Boehner is a sore loser and so is cantor they are poor excuses for leaders in this country. There will be more republicians jumping ship, just wait and see.

    April 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  16. otto in canada.

    i think this is a bad strategy for the following reason: 1. the recession is still ongoing even the terrorist i bet is feeling it too as most Americans are. 2 using fear tactics to spite the voters against their popular president is not going to work as Obama has proven to be one not to rush his decision making and he always come up with ideas that endear the voters more to him. therefore i think this strategy is a lose – lose for the repugs.

    April 30, 2009 03:57 pm at 3:57 pm |
  17. Wanda

    God help us all when they get into power again -
    I hope I am dead and gone....................

    April 30, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. Gary S.C.

    This fool doesn't quit. Between Steele and Boner, I have never seen so much Hate. You guys haven't figured it out, even your own party is embarased.
    It's almost like you are hoping something will happen so you can prove your point.
    This almost used to be funny, now it's getting dangerous. You right wing nuts should be held responsible for insighting panic.
    Keep it up, your time will come.

    April 30, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. keith B.

    More of the same shameful tactics from the party that lacks any real answers, shares in no responsibilities and put their political agendas before the good of their country.

    April 30, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  20. stovall

    I dont want to use the word hate; however, there is no other word describe how much I can't stand the Republican party. IGNORANT IGNORANT IGNORANT. Why spend money on BS videos and the economy is bad. Obama is doing just fine, national war is the only thing the Republican party likes to talk about. THey are IGNORANT!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  21. Clive

    The blood boils. GWB was warned explicitly that Bin Laden was 'detemined to strike America' – so he went on vacation. 911 happened on the GOP's watch , why do they never talk about that fact?
    Now they claim to be the party that will keep America safe, they are comprised of some truly awful people.

    April 30, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  22. Pete

    I'm sort of curious as to why the esteemed Representative intercut the Hugo Chavez picture with a picture of the burning Pentagon. Is he suggesting that Venezuela had something to do with the 9/11 attacks, or is this just the same nonsensical fear-mongering that the party of No Ideas is so famous for.

    April 30, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  23. Jesse in WI

    the Republican Party is disgusting!

    April 30, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  24. RH

    How long will it take the Republican party to realise that the same old song and dance isn't going to work for them? Americans have finally wised up to their schtick.

    April 30, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  25. The Unshrub

    This doesn't have anything to do with the facts, they just want to talk about it because, (in their own words) ""It's an issue that traditionally plays well for us." And they still don't understand why their party is still loosing votes.

    April 30, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
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