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. Laverne

    Be afraid, be very afraid is always their tactic. They act as if something has already happened. Pathetic!

    April 30, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  2. Constitution believer

    One problem with the Republicans' thinking, because they are a simple-minded party who sees everything only in black and white ("with us, or against us"; "Hu Jintao, GOOD / "Hugo Chavez, EVIL"), is that they literally believe that if you do not agree with them on strategy (unilateral, go-it-alone, sole superpower) or tactics (torture, illegal invasions), then you must also disagree with their goal (protect against terrorism).

    Of course, the other major problem with them is they are far more interested in American might and power than they are in American principles, democracy, and freedom (civil rights, human rights).

    April 30, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  3. babs

    Fear-mongering is just what they do. Same old same old. No news here.

    April 30, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  4. Is it 2013 yet?

    Bahhhhh, we are safe, bahhhhh, are you people serious?

    Closes gitmo with nowhere to put them and no plan?

    Lies about harsh techniques that were used that SAVED LIVES in NY and Cally, two bastions of liberal stupidity that Bush and company saved from another attack.

    Tell me Barry, since it is proven that none of the three were talking BEFORE waterboarding and gave up TONS of info after, how would you have gotten them to fess up, would you have let the people die (remember, KSM said "soon you will know of the second wave".)?

    I have an idea, we could make them listen to Obama speak without a teleprompter, that would BE REAL TORTURE.

    To somehow remain above the enemy you would have let people die Barry?

    Gutless, empty vessel.

    April 30, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  5. HelloFromEarth

    Yes, going around scaring and bullying and talking down to other countries, enemies and allies alike, will make us safer than trying to communicate and work together based on common grounds. Right.
    The last statistics I saw on related subjects, school yard bullies tend to end up in prison or the morgue earlier than their classmates, and the guy that lashes out habitually at everyone tends to be less respected than the guy who carries the really big stick but talks softly.

    April 30, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  6. tony

    I Truly Believe The GOP want Another 911 Type Attack On America!

    This Ad Is PURE Fear Mongering At It's Best!

    There Waiting with Baited Breathe For The Worst To Happen

    How Sad This Ad Is!

    So I Quest The Logic Is, Former President Bush Didn't Keep Us Safe!!!

    April 30, 2009 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  7. Expat American

    How much did these tired Republican scum fear tactics cost? Because the GOP could save themselves some money.

    Find some old books. Make book covers out of shopping bags like we all used to do in school. Cover the books and write 'Koran' on the front, and leave them in red state small town Wal-Marts all over this great land.

    The panic stampede of scared rednecks and Conservative bigots that would result would reach biblical proportions....one that this world has never known.

    Then blame it on President Obama.....

    April 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  8. Larry

    Absolutely TREASONOUS to suggest we are less ready to protect this country simply because of an election ...

    ABSOLUTELY TREASONOUS ...

    I think a few of these Republicans should start seeing Jail time ...

    April 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  9. Leslie

    Where were the fighter jets on 9-11????? Ordered by Cheney to "stand down," I heard. Also, recent reports show tests on WTC dust PROVE the buildings were destroyed by thermite, not by Bin Laden's hijackers.

    April 30, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  10. tony

    So I Quest The Logic Of This Ad Is,

    Former President Bush Didn't Keep Us Safe!

    April 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  11. The Fear Card

    It sounds like Cheney, Rove and Gingrinch and a scratched record. No one doubts that terrorism is real and a threat. But these guys can't stop screaming that the sky is falling.

    The Bush administration DID NOT make us safer. They made our enemies more determined.

    April 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  12. Bob Lomer

    Turning 9-11 into a political gambit to save themselves is a sad commentary on the type of political leadership we are seeing from the Republicans.

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

    Absolutely appalling and unpatriotic! Fear will no longer work. This makes me realize the GOP is hoping and probably praying something horrible does happen, just so they can blame it all on Obama. Shameful.

    April 30, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  14. MSH, Miami, FL

    Desperate is as desperate does....

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

    The do know that they didn't kept us safe right. We were attacked on 9/11/2001 when Bush was in office. Tell me again how they kept us safe????

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

    This is a joke. The GOP needs to get a new message. President Obama has an excellent team and with their knowledge and abilities, I think that the US is much safer than with the Bush Administration. At least we are now targeting the correct enemy. I am really beginning to think tht the GOP has no new ideas nor are they capable of coming up with better solutions to what faces this nation. They need to go away for a while and regroup, find a leader, a new message and concentrate on the needs of the American poople and this country. How stupid do they think we are...

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  17. js -----santee

    The American People have spoken. All polls indicate how they feel.
    Cannot they not read what the polls are saying? I am frightened by their inability to understand what a Democracy is. Majority rules.

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. gl, Pittsburgh

    "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.

    IT IS THE ECONOMIC STUPID!

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  19. Sue, Vienna, VA

    Just when I think the republicans can't sink any lower they somehow manage to pull it off! What can they possibly be thinking? One would think by now that one of them would be smart enough to see that they just keep digging themselves a deeper hole! They had no relevant ideas on how to fix the economy, and so they've obviously decided that maybe scaring everyone by showing pictures of President Obama shaking hands with world leaders is the way to go. I'm assuming they forgot that our President is out there trying to repair our tarnished image that was caused by the leader of their very own party. This is "No Country For Old Republicans" and they truly need to get a grip!!

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  20. Kim

    Still trying to change the subject.

    Didn't McCain try this during the electin?

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Yisehak

    It seems like these stupid republicans are praying some bad to happen to our beloved country. Thai is ridiculus

    April 30, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  22. Debbie

    Personally I feel our country is safer now then it has been since 9/11. The last administration pushed us low on the "love meter" through its agression and bully tactics. I am beginning to feel less like an Ugly American.

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

    Anybody that thinks we are less safe, after we have finally replaced the biggest coward the Oval office has ever seen

    Must have their head completely up, in a very dark place ...

    April 30, 2009 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  24. Tom

    MORE SAFE – 16,000 aditional troops and a revised strategy to kick Al Qaeda and the Taliban's butt WHERE THEY LIVE in AfPak.

    MORE SAFE – Continued drone strikes against high value terrorist targets.

    MORE SAFE – Closing Gitmo and banning torture... which only poured fuel on the fire for anti-American sentiment abroad.

    MORE SAFE – Strong HHS team... Napolitano is SOLID.

    April 30, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  25. Simmy

    Denial is a state of mind that has plagued the Reps. since President Obama came on the scene. They are determined in their efforts to undermine him on every side... They hate the fact that the country seems to be coming out of its severe economic slump...By now they thought the country would have turned on the president, and turned back to them.....Instead, the country has embraced their leader with enthusiasm......That has made them (Rep) more bitter....

    Why Snowe and Dukakis insist on remaining in a loser party defies logic....Why would they stay where they're not welcomed nor respected? Their ideologies seem to be making them miserable. They are voting as members of a cult, where the leader tells them how to vote....They don't have minds of their own...So sad...

    April 30, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
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