Politics of bin Laden: 'Fair game' vs. 'divisive'
April 29th, 2012
11:08 AM ET
2 years ago

Politics of bin Laden: 'Fair game' vs. 'divisive'

Washington (CNN) – Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday defended a recent Web video that invoked the killing of Osama bin Laden as evidence of the president's strength as commander in chief.

The spot, partially narrated by former President Bill Clinton, praised President Barack Obama's decision to order the killing of the al Qaeda chief and questioned whether Mitt Romney would have made the same choice.

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Team Obama was criticized by some for politicizing last year's event, but Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, said the spot was "not over the line."

"There's a difference in the roles they would play as commander in chief, and I certainly think that's fair game," Gibbs said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The video, released Friday, quoted Romney in 2007 during his first White House bid, saying "it's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." Days later he said, "We'll move everything to get him (bin Laden)."

During his second White House bid, Romney has repeatedly praised the president for launching the raid on bin Laden. But Gibbs said the presumptive Republican nominee's earlier comments were "foolish."

Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney's campaign, said utilizing the raid for political purposes is one of the reasons Obama has "become one of the most divisive presidents in American history."

"He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans … and he's managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan political attack," Gillespie said on the same program. "I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign."

Gillespie, a former aide to former President George W. Bush and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, also declined to say whether the United States is safer under the current president.

"I don't think that under President Obama, America is as strong as it should be or will be under a President Romney," he said.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan would not say if he was "comfortable" with the politicization of the events surrounding the al Qaeda leader's death by U.S. Navy Seals during a raid in Pakistan.

"I don't do politics," Brennan said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "I just know that President Obama, when the time came for him to make a momentous decision like that, he took the action that did bring bin Laden to justice."

Also see:

2012 race makes fodder for Obama, Kimmel

Gingrich to quit presidential race Wednesday

Romney to appear with possible VP pick Ayotte in New Hampshire

McCain: Obama campaign video invoking bin Laden is 'pathetic'

Watch State of the Union with Candy Crowley Sundays at 9am ET. For the latest from State of the Union click here.

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. FED up

    Here's the thing folks. Obama promised us to end the wars. Not risk starting new ones in Pakistan, Lybia and Syria. We voted for him to end the nonsense the Bush administration left us with. Not continue in his footsteps. How come no democrats are asking why Obama just signed an agreement with the new Afghanistani government to keep us there another twelve years. Why do we not have a for sale sign on the multi billion dollar embassy bush built in Iraq? Is the plan to hang around until WWIII gets started? Is the plan to get it started? The Obama drive by approach to war is cowardly on top of illegal. These policies are making the rest of the world sick of us. The US military and the CIA trained Bin Laden and the Taliban during the soviet occupation of Afghanistan. We have known were he is the whole time. Obama is a war monger just like Bush. Where is the change Obama promised us? End the madness!!! Ron Paul 2012!!!

    April 29, 2012 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  2. Claudia, Houston, Tx

    Of course the death of bin Laden is fair game, we hold vigil on 9-11 every year and for Republicans to rebuff President Obama on this one can only mean one thing, Republicans want to forget the 3,000 plus Americans who were killed.

    April 29, 2012 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  3. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    The real haters of President Obama are the Taliban, Somali Pirates, Iranis, North Koreans and tea baggers. Quite a crowd for the GOP big tent to draw support from.

    April 29, 2012 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  4. Adventure49

    I think President Obama should have put the banner in the background saying "Mission Accomplished." At least this time it would be true.

    April 29, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  5. Bill

    Darn right it is fair game. Can you imagine how the GOP would be crowing if "W" had actually done what he said he would do. Or any Republican president for that matter. Fact: this president brought Bin Laden down and we are all the better for it. Sadly, the GOP just can not accept it and tries to diminish the feat or divert attention to something else. Americans do not buy the GOP brand – it just smells too bad.

    April 29, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  6. Greyman

    Because the Republicans didn't milk 9/11 for all its political worth, which in truth was the FAILURE of a Republican president. Don't give me this garbage about Clinton neglecting al Qaida because he was too busy bonking an intern – the GOP does too much whining about the president's supporters blaming his predecessor. Obama has every right to tout his SUCCESS. The GOP keeps claiming Obama can't run on his record, but it sure looks as if he's DOING JUST THAT.

    April 29, 2012 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    The GOBP cult built an entire industry around politicizing bin-Laden and 9/11 for party purposes. Their hypocrisy knows no bound. (But we knew that already)

    April 29, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  8. Marie MD

    Let's see the village idiot from TX who took troops out of Afghanistan where bin laden was and started a phony war was too busy playing golf and he, his own words, wasn't losing any sleep over the monster who killed over 3,000 Americans and others.
    The flip flopper wouldnt have the ba lls to make a decision such as the President did because he is a coward and he changes his mind every single day about every single thing he has said.
    The President goes to the WH correspondent dinner, embarrasses bad hair man from NY and then goes watch our Seals kill bin laden.
    Sorry, but I rather go with what we have right now than a wishy washy businessman who likes to fire Americans.

    April 29, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  9. timothy

    Did Gillespie or McCain say anything when the previous president stood before the "Mission Accomplished" banner? I didn't think so. And killing bin-laden was good for America and invading Iraq was bad for America.

    April 29, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  10. Orwell speculates

    In the Romney administration the priorities are tax breaks and liquidating the government pennies on the dollar.

    Spending dollars to track a criminal down in a foreign country is not a priority, unless a profitable contract can be negotiated as part of the government liquidation.

    April 29, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. fernace

    I hope the President continues to campaign this strongly on his accomplishments! We've already heard all the "divisive" rhetoric from the disrespectful right: Obama is weak, no experience, a loser, failed policies, a Socialist, a Kenyan Muslim.....etc! Now it's time for us to hear how his "failed policies" helped to take us from a near Depression to a cautious but steady Recovery! And he did it w/little or no help from the GOTP, in fact, the right were major obstructionists in our quest to move forward, crying & throwing tantrums like 2yr olds, while our national credit rating took a hit! Divisive is when you put education & womens healthcare on the Non-Essentials list! Move forward w/Obama or revisit 1912 w/the GOTP?? Obama Again, thanks!!

    April 29, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. NVa Native

    The GOP is a party of whimps who never like it when people take advantage of their many weaknesses. And Obama will thrash them with their own failures and tactics of lies.
    The majority of Americans aren't as dumb as the GOP claims they are.

    April 29, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  13. Graham Krueger

    How is this different from Bush's "mission accomplished"? Being able to use international conflict for personal gain is one of the presidency's greatest assets. Reagan invaded Grenada and funded proxy wars in Nicaragua, Obama expanded air strikes to include Yemen and Libya, even Nixon's Cambodia invasion to a lesser extent. All were done to expand the power of the presidency, and keep us in what is becoming a state of perpetual war.

    Personally, I wish bin Laden had been arrested and tried as a war criminal, rather than killed in battle, but I realize that wasn't entirely possible. I respect the members of Seal Team 6 for their achievement, but bragging rights with regard to military accomplishments (and blame for debacles) have been a part of American political life since at least the War of 1812. It's a distasteful reminder of the power the executive has to initiate conflict to bolster his own image, but it is fair game.

    April 29, 2012 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  14. livingston

    If a Republican president had found and killed bin Laden they would have demanded that it be made a national holiday by now! To say the the President should not be proud of this accomplishment is just ridiculous! It is nothing more then straight up jealousy. Because they prefer that everyone forget the fact that he did what Bush didn't even try to do- does that mean that they would rather he still be alive? Makes you wonder what side of the "war on terror" they are really on.

    April 29, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  15. ST

    I do think we act according to what is in our mind. Pres. Obama indicated earlier even before he became the president that he will go for bin Laden wherever he will be hiding. He acted so. This idea was not crossing Romney's mind. He can not pretend now that he could had done the same.

    April 29, 2012 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  16. usualone

    If I recall correctly, the leaders in the GOP didn't even have the decency to congratulate the President for this action of getting Bin Laden. If the mission hadn't gone as well, they certainly would have attacked him.

    April 29, 2012 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  17. T Barnes

    I think both side will end up looking like idiots if they keep campaigning on issues like this. Obama's trying to take the credit of what Seal Team Six accomplished. All he did was set in a nice safe, air conditioned office and sign his name to something with a couple dozen pens. Once again trying to usurp the credit and glory from someone much greater than himself.

    April 29, 2012 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  18. LJ

    Look Like I tell my friends,if Mr Bush would have got Bin Laden, they would be still paradeing in Washington DC and you would have not hear the end of it from the Republican party. So go for it Mr Obama you did it. And you did not put up a Mission accomlplised sign. And it would have be sooooooooooo true

    April 29, 2012 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  19. macrasta

    this goes against their "failure" label....they absolute hate that he has succeeded where non of them have...

    April 29, 2012 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  20. CaliforniaBC

    Obama is respnsible for giving the order to take out bin Laden. GW missed him right from the start and the GOP are mad 'cause they blew it. And I seem to remember Bush getting all giddy about getting Saddam. He bragged about that and saying Obama has no right to tout that MAJOR accomplishment is just asinine.

    And I'm sorry people but Obama is not the dvisive one. The shift to the extreme right by the Republican party is what constitutes massive divisiveness.

    April 29, 2012 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  21. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    Notice it is ONLY the Republicans who are complaining about Bin Laden's kill! Because they are scared to death of Obama! They will say anything and play mind games on the people of the United States to win the Presidency for Romney. Romey was governor of Mass. for 4 years.....job creation for this time he was Govner: 47th in the USA. Impressive, NOT!

    April 29, 2012 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  22. Bootstomper

    Your telling me the GOP which brought us mission accomplished are actually going to attack the president on this? Republicans should just work on foreign policy in places like South Carolina and Utah.

    April 29, 2012 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  23. T. E. Lawrence O. A.

    GOP ASKED FOR IT – it's in direct response to GOP critical 'Talking Points' repeated over and over. Like a lawyer says: Don't ask the question if you can't take the response!

    The GOP brings up the subject, this is what they get.

    April 29, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  24. Erin

    The Republicans used bin Laden as a political scare tactic for 7 years...a Democrat had the stones to order his death(and did the world abig favor b.t.w.)...so yes it is fair game..the Republicans would do no less if things were reversed.

    April 29, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. Linda

    I watched the interview and was not surprised at Gillespie lies about the President. Like Romney Ed Gillespie would say anything to get a Republican in the White House. I shudder to think what this country would be like under Republican rule.

    April 29, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
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