April 30th, 2012
03:16 PM ET
3 years ago

Obama calls out 'previous statements' about bin Laden

Washington (CNN) – In an apparent swipe at Mitt Romney, President Barack Obama interjected his voice Monday into the back and forth between his re-election campaign and that of the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, ahead of Tuesday's anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death.

Obama was asked his thoughts about the killing during a press conference at the White House with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and seemingly capitalized on comments Romney made about the al Qaeda leader during his first presidential bid.

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"As far as my personal role, what other folks would do, I just recommend that everybody take a look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden," Obama said. "I assume that people meant what they said when they said it. That's at least been my practice. I said I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it."

Romney's campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul called the president's remarks a "cheap political ploy."

"It's unfortunate that President Obama would prefer to use what was a good day for all Americans as a cheap political ploy and an opportunity to distort Governor Romney's strong policies on the war on terror," Saul wrote in the statement. "President Obama's feckless foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries, weakened our allies, and threatens to break faith with our military. While the Obama administration has naively stated that 'the war on terror is over,' Gov. Romney has always understood we need a comprehensive plan to deal with the myriad threats America faces."

Firing back, the Obama campaign's national press secretary Ben LaBolt took issue with Team Romney's statement praising the Republican's "strong policies on the war on terror."

"When did romney ever outline that counterterrorism policy? (Al Qaeda) wasn't mentioned a single time in his foreign policy speech," LaBolt wrote on Twitter in response to Saul's statement.

Team Obama has touted the president's decision to take out bin Laden in the past week and questioned whether Romney would have made the same decision. The campaign released a web video Friday and campaign surrogates, including Vice President Joe Biden used the president's actions last year to paint Obama as a tough commander in chief.

In his speech Thursday, Biden used Romney's own words to classify the candidate as weak on fighting terrorists. He 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, Romney clarified, saying "We'll move everything to get him (bin Laden)."

On the campaign trail Monday, Romney said "of course" when asked if he would have ordered the killing of bin Laden.

"Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order," Romney added at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.

Also see:

Boehner explains jabs at Obama as 'help'

Clinton, Obama headline Virginia fund-raiser

Romney: U.S. should protect Chinese dissident

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


Filed under: 2012 • Japan • Mitt Romney • Osama bin Laden • President Obama • White House
soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. The Real Truth and Nothing But Real Truth

    Can you imagine the public outcry if it had ever leaked out that Obama had a chance to get Bin Laden and he had passed it up just like his buddy Bill Clinton??? Obama had already seen the backlash from Bill Clinton botched decisions. If there was even a remote chance to get Bin Laden, the go ahead would have been given. NO BRAINER both militarily and politically. Heck even Carter gave the go ahead for a rescue mission for the hostages in Iran and that was FAR riskier.

    Mr. Lead-from-Behind-I-Vote-Present for once could not hide and not make a decision. The empty suit was cornered.

    April 30, 2012 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  2. DWB

    Carter did make that decision– However the mission to resue the American hostages in Iran failed and resulted in the death of 8 American soldiers. You can be sure if the Navy Seals had failed a year ago the Republicans would have used it against the President then and in the upcoming election.

    April 30, 2012 04:30 pm at 4:30 pm |
  3. Larry L

    Romney will have to face the many, many direct quotes he's made showing him as the ulimate flip-flopper. He won't be able to conduct the ridiculous and dishonest campaign he used for the primary, since moderate Republicans and independent voters aren't stupid – unlike the ultra-conservative Tea Party base.

    April 30, 2012 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  4. FRANK - LAS VEGAS

    This morning I heard some of Mittens spokes people say that Mittens like all of GOP congratulated the President on getting bin Laden. That's not how I remember the reactions of the GOP and Mittens. Yes they all said they were glad he was dead but I don't recall remember any of the GOP give the President any credit, do you? Once again the GOP attempts to rewrite history, isn't it great that we have them all on tape.

    April 30, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    "How about "I'll close Gitmo"? Maybe you should trade in the soap box for something more fitting.
    -----––
    You cannot say that he didn't try to close Gitmo."
    ======

    Gotta love the GOP/Teatrolls' hubris: "He promised to do X and we succeeded in doing everything we could to prevent him from keeping his promise...so everyone should consider him a failure and Dems/liberals should be mad at him and not show up at the polls in November."

    April 30, 2012 04:33 pm at 4:33 pm |
  6. Valentina

    Obama – the total disgrace to our country!

    April 30, 2012 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  7. roscoe

    Maybe Mitt has been saving his sons to form an elite hit squad that he can deploy when needed. That would explain their lack of interest in the military and serving the country. Their dad had other plans for them.

    April 30, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  8. tykl

    @ Kenny K and Rudy NYC – very nice line. Well, I he tried. Well, somebody stopped him. If there was any leadership and any motivation to do it, it would have been done. I'll just point you to the disaster of a health plan Obama set forth – he shoved it through Congress before Brown could be sworn in (remember this on a Christmas Eve night??) and it did not carry ONE republican signature. So the 'he tried' or 'somebody tried to block him' (just remember, you guys aren't running against Bush like so many Dems and Obama think – 'i am still trying to clean up a mess!' and then flip or flop to 'if i can't get this economy turned around in 3 years i'll be a one term president') is as lame as it is an example of ineffectual leadership and pandering.

    April 30, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "I've seen other posters say that it was a "no-brainer" to order the go-ahead on the mission that took out Osama bin Laden."

    That's just them regurgitating the newest talking point in the GOP's/Teatrolls' desperate attemtps to take any credit from Obama on this issue. We've heard that he shouldn't have done it, we heard "congratualtions Dubya," we're heard he shouldn't have made it public, we've heard "it's too sacred to be political" and now we're hearing "it's no big deal...anyone would've given the go signal." What's next? "OBL is really alive and living with Elvis"?

    April 30, 2012 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  10. Lionel

    Thank you for calling out these Republicans. They cannot have things their way.

    You need to stand by what you say and not flip-flop. Call them out for it.

    Latinos for Obama 2012

    April 30, 2012 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  11. macrasta

    Keep up the great work Mr President!

    April 30, 2012 04:40 pm at 4:40 pm |
  12. IDEAS and IDEALS not ideologies

    The only way Romney would order bin Laden killed is if al qaeda took over his Cayman Island banks accounts.

    April 30, 2012 04:43 pm at 4:43 pm |
  13. John Henson

    Keep it up, Mitt. You think you can't be nailed down like you're a "teflon Don." You're not. Get ready to have your hat handed to you.

    April 30, 2012 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    ""It's unfortunate that President Obama would prefer to use what was a good day for all Americans as a cheap political ploy and an opportunity to distort Governor Romney's strong policies on the war on terror,""

    Fun with translation:

    "The GOP/Teatrolls' ability to demagogue and use 9/11 as leverage has ended, which means that nobody else is allowed to talk about it, especially if they succeeded at doing something the GOP and it's imbecie POTUS failed to do for 7 years. Please join us in pretending that 9/11 and the killing of OBL are no longer extremely important, because it can no longer be used by us to claim that we're better on foreign policy and national security. Not only did our political leverage on the issue run out, but a Dem/Liberal actually has the leverage now, and therefore it should no longer be spoken of at all. Did you hear that, MSM? Get cracking on stifling it, stat. We expect myriad opinion articles arguing that it shouldn't be talked about and a string of conservative pundit interviews no later than Wednesday. Hope to it."

    April 30, 2012 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  15. spengler47

    Elect Romney, bring back Bill Clinton, just get rid of Obama. The man's totally incompetent.

    April 30, 2012 04:51 pm at 4:51 pm |
  16. spengler47

    Elect Romney, bring back Bill Clinton, just oust Obama. The man is totally incompetent. And he's an outrageous liar and manipuator.

    April 30, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  17. Dominican mama 4 Obama (the real one)

    "I assume that people meant what they said when they said it. That's at least been my practice. I said I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it." President Barack Hussein Obama
    -------------------------------------------------
    As someone else stated: Tuesday marks the end of the Republican MONOLOGUE.
    Robmey has been talking smack galore with no compuction and fact notwitshtanding.
    Party's over MIttens.
    Hit me and I'll hit you back.
    Obama 2012–Because Obama won't let the 3a.m. call be answered by a maid or his wife.

    April 30, 2012 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  18. The Real Truth and Nothing But Real Truth

    Rudy NYC - Isn't it a little early to be playing the Bill Clinton card?
    ===================================================
    It is called DESPERATION Rudy. Obama fundraising isn't anywhere close to what he was expecting. He's tied or losing in the polls to Romney and Romney hasn't even started blasting Obama's 4 year record of failure on the airwaves. Heck even Jimmy Kimmel is joking in front of Obama that "there are terms to described President Obama, one term, but maybe not two terms". Even joking about his Hope & Change campaig of 2008 being "hilarious, got us on that one"!

    Obama needs to just start packin ghis bags at this point. He never should have even run for re-election. A LOT of Democrats are going to get tossed along with him in November.

    April 30, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  19. Chumlee

    Romney has no "war on terror" policy, no foreign affairs policy or experience; no experience except bankrupting
    companies, out-sourcing jobs out of the US, a non-taxpayer, and a corrupt business background with lots and lots
    of US taxpayer dollars to build up the companies he destroyed and then took the money and ran.

    Obama 2012

    April 30, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  20. Dee

    TELL EM Mr. President! Obama 2012!

    April 30, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  21. Birdwatcher1

    Oh please, that was not a swipe by Rep standards. Obama needs to stop taking the high road and call a spade a spade. R-money said he did not think it was a good idea to spend time and money to go after ObL and that is that. Watch R-money try and take credit for the raid! LOL!

    Obama – GET TOUGH, MAN! Stop being a professor and grow some fangs and claws – that is how the R's operate!

    April 30, 2012 04:56 pm at 4:56 pm |
  22. Birdwatcher1

    ... oh, and OBAMA 2012!

    April 30, 2012 05:00 pm at 5:00 pm |
  23. sayer

    Sheesh.! First Romney was wrong about letting the auto industry go bankrupt and also wrong about going after bin Laden. What a loser. No wonder he doesn't take a stance on anything. He always turns out to be wrong! I'm vote for President Obama. He's got a better track record of being right.

    April 30, 2012 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  24. Clem

    From calling Bush/Cheney war criminals to applauding Obama for killing Obama and other terrorists. It’s the liberal way – total hypocrisy. Independents see through this trash. Funny though.

    April 30, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  25. tykl

    Dems are delusional. The issue isn't whether Romney said he would go after Osama (for all the Dems, please out yourselves here and post a comment saying that you think it IS good idea to spend billions on just trying to get one person so the rest of the readers can understand why the Dems can't be trusted anywhere near the budget – Romney DID say he wouldn't spend billions to go after one person and that is what he meant) – the issue is whether when the special ops found him during their routine intelligence gathering whether anybody would have said to get him. I imagine anybody would have. The special ops were likely to have found him at some point or other. Did Obama spend billions to find him??

    April 30, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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