April 30th, 2012
03:16 PM ET
2 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. Lean6

    Conservative phony outrage...what's new? It's almost as if they are stuck in some ridiculous twilight zone, where nothing matters but what is written in the papers. I said "almost" because I think they've proven their base dumb enough for that to actually be true. So, all together now, Conservative sheep. Say "boooo Obama killed Bin Laden and thinks it was a big deal. Booooooo!"

    April 30, 2012 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. 1twinsfan

    Romney said even Jimmy Carter would have made the call. Yeah, well, even Jimmy Carter would have put the dog in the dang car, Mitt!

    April 30, 2012 06:27 pm at 6:27 pm |
  3. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    It's wonderful the President has riled the Republican Party, cause there will be much, much, more on its way. It pains the REpublicans that the President is correct about Romney, ( the FLIPPER) stating that Romney initially said it wasn't WORTH IT TO MOVE HEAVEN AND EARTh, until someone in the Republican Party told him he was stupid, and then he comes back 180 degrees to say oh, yeah, I would move heaven and earth. What a long record of flip flopping for Romney....this should be fun for the Democrats.

    April 30, 2012 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  4. Woman In California

    NEWSFLASH Willard: At least Jimmy Carter WAS ELECTED PRESIDENT AND WILL GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS A POTUS – something of which YOU WILL NEVER ADD next to your awful name and list of failures.

    Take that.

    April 30, 2012 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
  5. Larry L

    @tykl

    "The special ops were likely to have found him at some point or other."
    -----------------------------------------------------------–
    Bush called off the dogs and sent us to Iraq when he had Bin Laden cornered! He fabricated intelligence to get us in Iraq – where 4500 Service-members died! Remember "Mission Accomplished!"? President Obama has done a magnificent job of fixing all of the messes Republicans left behind – including doing exactly what "candidate" Obama promised when he said... "Elect Me and I'll Kill Bin Laden!

    April 30, 2012 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  6. Claire

    Typical repubs... always lying. Soon they'll claim they always supported gay marriage and global climate change.

    When candidate Barack Obama declared in 2007 "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will," he was blasted by repubs and their amen corner in the media.

    To pretend that ANY repub would have acted on this intelligence is ABSURD. They all claimed that the President was naive and had no idea what he was talking about as far as Pakistan. romney went even further and said he wouldn't have allocated any funding or resources towards tracking down bin laden. So was romney lying then or is he lying now?

    April 30, 2012 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  7. Gigi

    I keep hearing that GITMO was no closed and that President Obama stated that he would close it. Well, he did try to close GITMO. However, the Republicans and Tea Party Republicans were the ones who denigrated the notion of having terriosts on American soil, dispite the fact the location and prison facility were more than supremely adequate for the penal level of the detainees. Finally, A number of detainees were transferred to other countries during the first two years of the President's Administration in response to the potential closure. Guys, "Republicans, Tea Party Republicans"', you can't change the rules of the game in mid stream and then fault me for winning by utilizing the rules that you thought were my Achilles heel! Obama/Biden 2012!

    April 30, 2012 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  8. Tubby the Tuba Texas

    No Romney would not have given the order, he would have had to clear it with Pakistan, who would never give him a go ahead, kinda like GW Bush. Carter never would have said, " Its not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars in the hunt for one person!" Of course after the fact, he decided he better say he would move heaven and earth to get Osama. Of course that is has been done, he would say yes he would have given the order, but given his flip flopping mind who really knows. It was Obama's 4am question about Romney. I glad that the Democrats have riled the Republicans. We democrats love it!

    April 30, 2012 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. insanity

    I don't think that if CIA came to Mr. Romney with tangible evidence, Romney would say no, but the issue here is whether Romney's policies would allow for conditions, where the CIA would have spent millions on going after one person. According to Romney's previous statements, he would have not spent significant resources going after OBL.
    I think Obama is right to call Mitt out on this.

    April 30, 2012 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. The Choobs

    Clem, there is valid reason to consider Cheney and Bush war criminals – from illegal torture and rendition to wiretapping without warrants to revealing the name of a CIA agent, and there's more...as a liberal, I'm actually glad we're NOT prosecuting because it would be a huge circus and sideshow, but the fact is those folks in power abused their power...as most folks in such high circles seem to do. You may equate that with Obama's use of drones and landing Seal Teams in foreign lands, and many of us liberals would agree that's equally troubling. Perhaps one lesson is that both liberals and conservatives often find fault with their leadership, but does that mean one should abandon all the good they see on their side
    of the aisle?

    April 30, 2012 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  11. Mike_T

    Let's not make this about Obama over-celebrating the anniversary of bin Laden's death. The point that should be focused on is that Romney said one thing and then said something completely opposite days later. How can the uproar of focus not be on this issue. The GOP is delusional. Someone on here wants to call the the Dems delusional and make argument that it is stupid to waste billions looking for Osama bin Laden, but correct me if I am wrong, was it not the Repubs that WASTED BILLIONS IN IRAQ LOOKING FOR WMDs. It is funny how FLIPPARD ROMNEY has been twisting his words to only contradict himself time and time again, yet he doesn't want to be called on it in a campaign election. It does merit attention. Obama did not create the moniker "Flip Romney", Romney did.

    April 30, 2012 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  12. chuck weidemann

    Because someone says after the fact they would have done a certain thing is phony and weak....they know the out come and did not face any risk or uncertainty. A true leader would never take us down the speculation road .Obama did what he did as it was his job. No one knows what Romney would have done including Romney.....he has never faced such a situation. Obama has and history tells us the outcome!! So live with it!!!

    April 30, 2012 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  13. nobama

    does he mean like saying you won't have lobbyists in his whitehouse? Or that his administration would be the most open? or thta there wou dbe no victory lap on osama? or that he would close guantanamo before he spent $750K on a soccer field for guantanamo? Besides, he does not reference the entire romney statement, just selected sentences from the statement. context is important

    April 30, 2012 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  14. Chris

    So let's take a page from Obama and "everybody take a look at people's previous statements...." It was Barack Obama who said if unemployment was still above 8% he didn't deserve to be reelected. How's that hope and change working for you Barry?

    April 30, 2012 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  15. Liz the First

    I think Romney forgets everything folks say these days is recorded and you can't just say you didn't say something when everyone knows you did. how delusional are the rethugs when they think they can just say one thing one day and the next day or so say, 'no, i never said that,' or 'that was taken out of context.' hey, Mittens, everyone except your Kool-Aid swilling base sees you for what you are. you have no spine, no plan, and no business being the leader of the Free World. Obama is running on his record and you just can't compete. and yes, Carter would have ordered bin Laden taken out, but Bush wouldn't!!!!!

    April 30, 2012 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. April Garlow

    What is the difference between Obama celebrating and exploiting the death of Osama and those soldiers posing with corpses-ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!!

    April 30, 2012 10:09 pm at 10:09 pm |
  17. JerseyGirl

    Willard R-money has nothin' so he has to deride & put down the President's decision to go after Bin Laden. This guy has got to be the most flip-floppin' piece of work since God knows when! How can u posters – Repubs – support him?? Please explain!

    April 30, 2012 11:44 pm at 11:44 pm |
  18. ct

    thats right jimmy carter would've made that call....one thing mittens got right is that only the dems gets the job done, and thats a fact....funny how he didn't say bush would've made that call, cause he didn't care....

    May 1, 2012 02:26 am at 2:26 am |
  19. zimbot

    Bin Laden was killed while President Obama was in office, not ex-President Bush. That is all that's important.

    May 1, 2012 04:56 am at 4:56 am |
  20. Joy!

    You see President Obama doesn't have to consult with the mormon elders to make tough decisions!! he just do it! boom bin laden gone and gone forever!! who wants to be the next victim? good choice no one dared stand up!!

    May 1, 2012 05:34 am at 5:34 am |
  21. julie

    tell 'em Mr. Prez romney is a loser and folks that will vote for him LOSERS TOO................don't worry romney supports.............ol romn will try again in 2016 and lose to Hillary HAHAHAHA

    Obama 2012 the ONLY way FORWARD

    May 1, 2012 07:01 am at 7:01 am |
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