April 30th, 2009
02:30 PM ET
9 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. isaac c. miller

    Yes, national security may return to the "forefront" as Republicans insist on political tactics to promote fear in the populace, rather than working to unite the country in facing its external and internal threats.

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  2. Jero

    What republicans are forgetting is that G.W. Bush his first term began on 01-20-2001!!!! and not on 9-11-2001!! This means Bush had more than 7 months to prevent that attack! Instead Republicans exploiting their own failure! YES I DO FEEL SAFER! BUT NOT THANKS TO REPUBLICANS! I'M GLAD WE FINALLY HAVE A PRESIDENT WHO REACHES OUT TO ANYONE! CREATING A LESS HOSTILE WORLD!

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  3. Tim

    Just more gop FEAR MONGERING.

    The party of no has nothing else available to say.

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


    There does that sum up their strategy? They really are just beneath contempt.

    Please lets hear from the pro-torture GOP on national security. They are continuing to sound more like Gollum every day.

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  5. PA Dem

    So they basically updated the election campaign ads? How creative!

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Larry

    This video states ""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,"

    To imply that this is what the President is doing is, when is not, is an act of treason. These traitors should be hung from the highest tree until dead.

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  7. BobAbrams

    THIS IS THE ABSOLUTE TRUTH. Way to go Boehner!!!

    April 30, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  8. Jason

    Let the GOP self-destruct. They deserve it. Oh wait they already have!

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  9. Cheri

    The GOP are at it again.They have nothing new to say.All they ever do is spread their fear mongering.

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  10. Jim in San Jose

    And this is to solidify their base of some 20% of the population or is it to scare Democrats, who didn't buy it the last time, into switching parties?

    Why does it seem that everything with the GOP is OLD: Old men, old tactics, old selling points, old arguments. Americans just aren't buying what they're selling any more.

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  11. Kristy B

    Here we go again, haven't they seen that this doesn't work

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  12. J

    There has not been a terrorist attack in the last 100 days...

    We are doing GREAT!!!

    What is he talking about??

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  13. La Chatte

    Desperate times call for desperate Repug babble! Their polls just keep dropping. Perhaps Alaska can secede and the remainder of those fundamentalist freaks can move there. Rush and Miss Wasilla can become the reigning monarchs and monitor those Ruskies from the steps of their trailers.

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  14. Joanna

    fear fear fear IS all the GOP knows. We are much safer and more respected for the efforts our president has made. Thank goodness!

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  15. Raymond Dellenger

    What ever happened to The Sedition Act?

    Not once in the 8-year nightmare that was the Bush Administration - also now widely known around the glodbe as The Nadir of America - did the Democratic Party ever find it apporpriate to do an ad hominem piece of trash like this. And there were FACTS there!

    These people are beneath scum.

    April 30, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  16. Ari

    Well, being that the republican party did nothing to keep us safe from this flu (because things like "pandemic preparation funds" were considered "pork"), I fail to see how torturing some al qaeda guy that WE ALREADY HAVE IN CUSTODY AND SO THEREFORE HIS INFORMATION IS NO LONGER ACCURATE hello! is going to protect us any more.

    This is the same party that puts Volcanoes in the same category as tooth fairies and sasquatches. Republican used to mean "Small Government". But these days, it means controlling every aspect of my life. That's not small, that's Omnipresent.

    April 30, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. Paula

    Don't the Republicans understand that fear mongering and the Bush name will blow up their pparty.How stupid are these people.
    Jeb Bush can't attract voters like they hope and this now takes the cake.It's so pathetic.But I'm sure Fox news will promote this garbage.

    April 30, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  18. BobAbrams

    Every post so far is accusing GOP of using fear tactics...what do you think Obama does to you??? He uses FEAR to tell you that if we don't pass his agenda, "our economic position will worsen"...HYPOCRITES

    April 30, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Kevin B

    How does national security play well for the GOP when 9-11 happened on thier watch and we stumbled into iraq with poor and misguided decsion making at best and out right lies at worst?

    OBL has not been brought to justice over the seven years we have been in Afghanistan and Pakistan has ben left to boil over.

    The GOP is constantly deluding themselves into believing the american people will trust them with anything dealing with the security of our nation. Not a chance after the last debacle.

    April 30, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  20. Myassis Dragon

    That's what America needs right now...fear and scare tactics. I'm so glad the Republicans came up with something new! Vote Republican or die...

    April 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  21. Peejay

    More lockstep flailing. Do these Senators and Representatives have constituents who might want them to do something productive, or is this what they elected them to do?

    April 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  22. Matthew

    There are a few things that they left out of the video:
    1. Iraq has Weapons of Mass Destruction (oops... forgot that didn't work out too well, did it?)
    2. Secret prisons and torture actually work (except that they don't and cause us to loose our moral standing in the world)
    3. um... 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! 9/11! (oh yeah... we already said that, didn't we?)
    4. 9/11! (one more time can't hurt)
    5. He's a muslim/socialist/foreigner/communist/something else to invoke fear... (but he's not...)

    The GOP had better retract their head from their collective anus and start being straightforward with the American people before they lose what little revelance that they do have. Fear-mongering is not the answer; it only shows how incredibly desperate they have become.

    April 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  23. tony

    Back to square one…fear-mongering by the GOP.
    That's All They Know!

    Lets Not Forget, The Coordinated 911 Attack happen under Former President Bush Watch!

    April 30, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  24. Marty

    I laughed hysterically when I saw the New Yorkers running at the sight of a large airliner in the New York skyline. I wondered how important water boarding was to them at that moment. How soon we forget.

    April 30, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  25. Ron

    Yes, Boehner......that's all the republicans have left...... fear.

    It used to play well for you.

    But I think a lot of Americans have finally grown up.

    April 30, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
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