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. Georgio

    Who is the targeted group with Rep. add?. How can you grow the party with this negative language???.I wish these Rep. can call press conference when they release these adds so the press can ask them questions like they are asking the President.

    April 30, 2009 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  2. Simpliticus

    Boehner may as well torture because his comments are becoming tortuous to listen to anymore!

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  3. Tina,NC

    Next up:
    The Celebrity tactic
    The Ayers tactic
    The Wright tactic
    The ACORN tactic
    and last but not least
    The NO IDEAS tactic

    Yet they wonder why people are leaving the party.

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  4. Robin

    It's really kind of sad. Is this all they've got? I guess it's somewhat better than the usual witch hunt the GOP goes on. Looks to me like they might just be doing themselves in.

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  5. Troy from NJ

    I wonder when they will understand what most Americans now understand...Republican dont make us safer...911 happened on their watch. Bin Laden is still out there..When we were attacked under Clinton; WTC 1 and Oklahoma..the responsible parties were brought to justice. As with the tax argument, Republicans are behind the times when it comes to how voters are thinking.

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  6. Ren from Baltimore

    Representative John "Nayer" Boehner, we finally accepted that your party was pulling these god-awful tactics. Now it seems that even the 9/11 "confessions" were meant to support your position that there were WMDs in Iraq, when there really were none.

    You lost the respect and support of Americans due in large part to this kind of idiocy. Now you're letting an aide put out the same kind of smears-hey, in essence, "flipping the bird" to those who support America and its President.

    Get real, get a life, and get out.

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  7. P. Y.

    Here we go ! Scare tactics are the Republicans favorite tactic. Will they ever learn ? I guess not ! Too bad that there are so many people that are still gullible to this overuse of fear.

    April 30, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  8. IndyVoter

    Are you serious? I don't know why Republicans think this is going to be a good issue for them. It is quite clear that Bush/Republican blustering, personal wars, torture practices (a la Abu Graib) and isolation has not only not made us less safe, but alienated our allies, emboldened more extremists and given people worwide an excuse to hate us...Obama on the other hand has done alot to reverse all of that....Whether or not to release torture documents is a BIG FAT RED HERRING! Do not try to change the subject! We are not stupid. YOU NO LONGER HAVE CREDIBILITY AS IT PERTAINS TO NATIONAL SECURITY! Now...back to the real issues..Why are people deserting the Republican party in droves? Why do you continue to try to obstruct anything our Commander-In-Chief does? Your lust for power is disgusting! Don't you have any dignity?

    April 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  9. Tim

    Why is it that we should expect republicans to keep us safer? 9/11 did happen, but it happened while a republican was in the white house. You cannot accept credit for "no attacks since 9/11" without taking blame for the event itself. Personally, I find it difficult to accept associations such as this as causative, but politicians tend to ignore the difference between cause and coincidence. It's disappointing that this tactic should be effective – I don't think most people are that stupid.

    April 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  10. hadelaide

    9/11 happened ON THEIR WATCH! So they thought torturing people will make us safer, when the terrorists used their actions as recruitment tool. Now they are using fear to drive the electorate to look their way. But again, they are late because European countries will soon make a decision about the number the prisoners to accept. Even a town in Montana is offering its empty prison to hold some of the prisoners.

    No Taliban or Al Quaida terrorist is more dangerous than the terrorist within. That is, Dick and the GOP band!

    April 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  11. foxglove

    The GOP has become a bunch of misfits. They almost wrecked the country. They are about the most un-American as it get. Boehner and McConnell should both just go away. They have enjoyed the good life here in Washington at the taxpayers expense too long.

    April 30, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This is fear-mongering clear and simple. I just wish the GOP would have something to say. They clearly don't have any policies that we haven't hear before or see not work. Is there anything that they say yes to other than tax cuts?

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  13. Frank

    Why must the Repulicans always try to smother the truth with lies/fear and propaganda? When are they going to stand up, tell the truth and stop cowardly hiding behind the skirt of dishonesty? Mr. & Mrs. GOP, American has seen your game and didn't like it. A first grader would realize when the "GAME IS OVER".

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  14. RepubliKLANs Are Plain STUPID

    let the scare tactics begin – the same republican bigots who started an UNJUST WAR under the guise of keeping america safe, and wrecking our nation into an economic depression is revisiting the same old same old scare tactics!

    republicans = nothing new, just say "NO" and scare the bejesus out of all americans!!!!!

    national security my foot!!!!!

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  15. EB

    When will the republicans learn their lessons? Don't they get that people are sick and tired of listening to their fear-mongering? They have yet to come up with plans that will help the average person in this country....There was a reason why the party got handed a big defeat on Nov 4th...
    And someone, please remind Boehner and his crooneys that 9/11 happened on the GW Bush's watch...which the last time i checked was a republican....so technically, he didn't keep us safe from that....So, try another idea...

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  16. Anna, Missouri

    It is a web video, so unless the news media decide to give it free airtime, the only ones that will watch it are the idiots that already feel that way. Should we take bets on which news outlet will show it the most? Of course some people may be confused by listing it as a NEWS media.

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  17. August

    The Republican Party is responsible for giving President Bush a blank check to wage a meaningless war in the empty attempt at National Security, which ended up killing 4,800 American Troops and putting the country into a financial recession and they think they can take the helm at National Security? Laughable and insulting at the same time. Thankfully all the other countries know that under President Obama, we truly are safe and President Obama would NOT divert attention away from those who would truly set out to harm this country. John Boehner is the epitome of all that is wrong with the fear-mongering and ideologically-insignificant party that has lost all credibility in this country.

    April 30, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  18. Marty

    The GOP should just sit back and let Democrats have their way. It will be the best present the GOP ever got from the Democrats. It's early in the game. Very soon the chosen one's rhetoric will no longer give hope to those that need it. Reality will set in.

    April 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  19. LISA

    Sorry Rethugs that doesn't work anymore! I feel safer now than with Bush. Still the GOP (Party of no Plans) just B.S..

    April 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |

    give it up GOP(goofballs of the powerless)

    April 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. Larry

    The Republican party is a most digusting group of old white men and a few smart women ...

    If for one moment you think that one man ... even as great a man as Obama is ... is the only one protecting this country ... your in dreamland

    Our country is protected by many ... from the privates on up

    Don't you Dare insult our young men and women

    April 30, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  22. Ed from Dallas, TX

    How about we show the GOP we are safer now with Obama by voting the whole lot out in 2010. This way, they will know that the American People they claim to represent are not the Rush Wackos but the rest of us who are pleased at the work the Obama administration is doing.

    April 30, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  23. rbinny

    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.

    On who's watch did that happen?

    April 30, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  24. Lynda/Minnesota

    Recycled scare tactics? How original.

    April 30, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Abe

    The Republican ( I meant the Regional) party is becoming a little too desperate!! Didn't they learn that the reason why GOP is becoming a useless party because they do nothing but attack anyone who doesn't look like them (angry old white men) or think like them.

    April 30, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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