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. chris


    April 30, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  2. Party of NO strikes again

    yep, just keep attacking Obama instead of actually putting some elbow grease into helping the American people...

    your attack strategy has been backfiring but yet you keep doing it- this is why you're a regional party, GOP. When your focus is on destruction, you will always reap what you sow.

    I really hope you turn around and become a productive party- I really do. I wouldn't want a one party system in this country. GOP, please look beyond yourself to find balance and stop acting out of fear.

    April 30, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Squigman

    The biggest threat to the American people, is the republican party attempting to stampede the masses, with un-found rhetoric and scare tactics.

    April 30, 2009 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  4. Alex from Wisconsin

    I feel kinda foolish for actually thinking for a second that the Republican Party was actually trying to improve themselves. This isn't moving the Republican Party forward, this is moving them back to the Bush era. Iwill never forget what happened on 9/11/2001. I'm sure the majority of Americans won't either. However, it is stupid for the republican party to willingly anchor themselves to that tragic day. Make 9/11 a national holiday and move on to the important issues of today and tommorow.

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  5. mary dale

    9/11 happened partly due to our arrogance abroad, our siding with Israel on everything, and the terrorists are nutcases. It sounds like the republicans are telling the terrorists to bring it on so they will attack us again. Bush successfully won in 2004 because they cheated in Ohio not because we wouldnt be safe under Kerry – bush/rove were probably eavesdropping on the kerry campaign the whole time so the game plans were an open book to them. Boehner needs to go sit in a corner and smoke another pack of cigarettes.

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  6. chuck

    The new rebranded republican strategy; Hope our economy collapses and that terrorists kill many U.S. citizens.

    These guys are the party of DOPE…..

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. katiec

    I am so SICK of the republicans.
    Their self destruction could not happen to more deserving people.

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. Adam

    This is idiotic. The GOP is grasping at straws. It's time they go back to the drawing board and rebuild themselves around more than just pushing FEAR. I'm a Democrat but one that respects the balance of power and I want to see a real Republican party participating in the legislative process. Voting no on everything for the next 4-8 years doesn't do the GOP or America an ounce of good.

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  9. nick

    Republican´s seem to have picked up on Pres. Johnson´s line about " being a dollar short and a minute late"
    What does Rep. Bohrner not understand about Pres. Obama´s comments regarding. more troops, more deplomacy, and the best military minds in the country supporting the Pres.
    It seems you have to be a Republican to only believe those out of the loop, who worked for Bush and his policies, to know the truth.
    I guess Gates will also be looked upon as" not being Republican enough " to remain in their favor.
    Each day, I tell myself that the Republican´s can not sink any lower, yet each day they make me a liar... How shameful they have become

    April 30, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  10. Todd Steinberg

    I think this is the same fear mongering crap that lost them the election last Fall and I hope the American public will see right through this sad attempt to deflect from the fact that the GOP is bankrupt of ideas!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  11. J.Crobuzon

    Al-Qaeda will never attack us again. They blew up one building; we crushed two powerful modern nations into the dirt and barely noticed them. Now, we're holding them both down with one finger while we decide if it's worth staying around to watch them struggle.

    April 30, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |

    This is Proof the Republican Party is BANKRUPT Same old Fear Mongering PATHETIC!

    April 30, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. Anthony In Miami

    I don't know what to say here. This baffles the hell out of me! Why is it when the idea of working "WITH" someone comes up, you attack them! And conservatives keep saying Obama is still in campaign mode. Let's see, how can I say this: mmmm. I have friends in the military who worked the Guantanamo Facility when we were holding Haitians there in the mid 90's. And they should close it and keep it closed! Keeping Guantanamo open doesn't make America safer! And when I talk to my family members and others who are in the military, they love the President. There is even an energy there that hasn't been there for years! So to Mitch McConnell and Boehnner: STOP the madness! We're at risk more now from fringe groups who are American citizens than we are terrorists. Hello, remember the guy who bombed the Federal Building in Oklahoma City. Remember him. How about less talk about people failing and saying no to everything that looks like something from the President- -And come up with some new ideas! Which brings me to his comment: We feel National Security is an area Republicans have always done well. I used to type 60 words a minute on a typewriter. Now I type 120 words a minute on a computer keyboard. Point: THINGS HAVE CHANGED!!! YOU HAVE TO CHANGE TOO!

    April 30, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  14. RH

    If the Democrats had done the same thing three years ago, the Republicans would have labeled them as treasonous. We'll see what the GOP has to say come September when Obama will have been in office the same amount of time Bush had been when New York and Washington were attacked. And if the US hasn't suffered another terrorist attack by then, how far can they really expect this argument to carry?

    April 30, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  15. George

    Are they still trying to win the election??? People have spoken and have voted for change.
    The sad part...republicans are probably praying for some sort of attack to have the simple satisfaction to say "We told you so".

    April 30, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  16. Lynn

    The Republicans in Congress should concentrate on doing their job, not worrying about the next election.

    No wonder Arlen Spector left the party!!

    April 30, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  17. TM

    The fact that we have not been attacked since 2001 proves that....we have not been attacked since 2001. Nothing more, nothing less. Bush and Cheney got a lot of political milage out of making Americans afraid. If they had spent half as much effort in protecting this nation during their first 8 months in office as they spent in sowing fear during the next 8 years, we'd all be better off. But I guess W's vacations in Crawford were more important.

    April 30, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    9/11 occurred under George W. Bush's watch, he was our president and you can't wash that fact away, it's written in history and still present in the minds of those who lost their loved ones. Show some respect for them, if not for yourselves.

    April 30, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  19. tony

    I feel much Safer here in America now, them I ever Have in my life!
    I'm 54 years old.

    April 30, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  20. Jay Sacramento, CA

    Instead of spending time making these videos, why don't they spend more time trying to develop ideas to fix the economy?

    April 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. Big Stick in SC

    Wow...the scare tactics are going to a whole new level. I guess if you're getting beat at every aspect, why not stoop even lower - LOL

    The only thing that will put the Republicans in power again is a new terrorist attack on the US or its interest. And i pray that never happens, excluding the fact that we'll have Republican leadership again!!!

    If 2010 loss doesn't change the Republicans strategy, there's no hope for them. I mean hell, after getting whipped in 2006 and 2008, something should click in their heads that the same old tactics aren't working anymore...but we'll see!!!

    Reggie from the SC 'the RED state'

    April 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. Another Texan

    Ahhh, GOP fear-mongering at its best. Scare the everyone into thinking we are now less safe than we have been in the past 8 years. If this is the strategy for the GOP to regain control in washington in the 2010 elections, then it is a truly sad one.

    April 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  23. Deb

    These are the Republicans. In a time when economic times are at the worst level ever, people are steadily losing their jobs, their homes their lives – republicans are telling their distorted lies about our new administration. Yes Bush and Cheney kept us safe from terrorists and all the while the fat cats got richer but now, most of us do not have jobs, homes or an affordable education for our children. Please think about that. Was this the tradeoff?

    April 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  24. Don

    I'm really tired of the Repugs worn out claim that Dubja and Chainy kept the country safe from attack.

    It is a huge leap from 9-11 to the claim that the white knight and his dark double did anything to keep others from attacking.

    I guess the thought is – scare the hell out of them and they won't come back.

    That doesn't work on Halloween and it isn't an effective threat abatement technique, unless of course you are on the play ground and a young Dicky is trying to bully you intro giving him your allowance.

    April 30, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  25. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    If the GOP had put this much effort into holding "Fearless Jet-Pilot's" feet to the fire on this subject, we wouldn't have these problems now for them to blame on the person who inherited the problem!

    Remember Bushbots, "Be afraid.....be verrrrryyy afraid!!!"

    Hey, right-wing swifties, watch how a pro catches OBL, not pays lip service to it!

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
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