April 30th, 2012
01:00 PM ET
3 years ago

Romney 'of course' would have given bin Laden order

Portsmouth, New Hampshire (CNN) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney asserted firmly Monday he would have given the order to kill Osama bin Laden if he were president, despite past comments in which he questioned the value of hunting down the former al Qaeda chief.

Romney implied the president's decision - which is being hailed by Obama's re-election team as a gutsy move - was an easy call.

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Asked by a reporter if he would have given the order to kill bin Laden, Romney said "of course," and quipped: "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."

The candidate was shaking hands and signing autographs on a ropeline in Portsmouth, New Hampshire following an appearance with Granite State Sen. Kelly Ayotte.

In the past week top surrogates for Obama's re-election team began touting the decision – made nearly one year ago – to take out bin Laden at a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. In making their arguments, many of the president's advisers have questioned whether Romney would have made the same choice. Team Obama made the argument in a web video posted Friday.

In a campaign-style speech Thursday, Biden hailed Obama as having a "backbone like a ramrod," and called into question Romney's resolve.

"We can't say for certain what Gov. Romney would have done," Biden said after hailing the president's decision.

In his speech, Biden used Romney's own words to paint the candidate as weak on fighting terrorists. Biden 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)."

– CNN's Rachel Streitfeld contributed to this report.

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: Osama bin Laden
soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. chill

    Going after him when they didn't know for sure he was there? Not so sure. It wasn't that simple. And would he have gone after him with a bomb or the Seals? And would he have advised Pakistan ahead of time? All unknowable answers of course, but not an "of course" decision.

    April 30, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  2. T

    what ever....just another story UNFIT MIT

    April 30, 2012 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Ben

    tykl, you sound ridiculously dishonest. Bush and the republican party took us to war in Afghanistan with the slogan by Bush saying that he "want him(Osama) dead or alive". Due to republican incompetence , Bin Laden got away. In the years that followed, Bush and the republicans told us that Bin Laden was hiding in a cave somewhere around the Pakistany border. Just like the WMD, now we know that was also a lie.
    All the republicans does is start wars to line up their pocket, irrespective of thousands of our brave men and women whose lives are endangered by the republicans drum beat for war.
    The republicans want to blame Obama for not cleaning up their mess fast enough, but they want us to forget that they are the ones whose policies destroyed millions of jobs.
    Obama did not destroy the economy, the republicans did. That is a fact. Indisputable !

    April 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  4. The Real Tom Paine

    Jimmy Carter knows the consequences of a botched resuce mission, so Romney's snarky comment about Carter is way out of line. Besides, Carter graduated from Annapolis: where was Romney when his country asked him to be part of a well-regulated militia? Cycling around France, enjoying a deferrment. He is in no position to attack anyone who served. Besides, Romney probably would have called it off if a poll told him he might lose support.

    April 30, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  5. DJ Reality

    tykl you just don't understand economics or history just like most republicans. How long did it take to recover from the depression? Did we recover overnight? It took more than ten years to recover. See most republicans don't study history and learn its lessons. That's why they want to get rid of all the regulations put in place to prevent another recession. Plus dealing with a congress whose only mission over the last four years has been to make sure Obama's administration fails. You have to look at what is going on.and you are not. The killing of Osama bin Laden was the one thing the republican could not get their hands on and screw up....

    April 30, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. MythsGone

    All politicians are guilty of some level of flip-flopping. But, Mitt has turned it into an art-form. Just a matter of time ill he tells us that when he said he wouldn't bail-out the Autos –he only meant is case there was a flood.

    April 30, 2012 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  7. B

    "Of course" he would have given the bin Laden order. Mittens just shook the etch-a-sketch so hard on that one, that it's knobs have completely fallen off!

    April 30, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  8. czmikdbris

    Does everything that comes out of this man's mouth have to be a snarky comment? Seriously, what's with this guy? Is he even capable of pleasant discourse? I got two words for you, Mittens! And they should fit right into your vocabulary!

    April 30, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  9. Jake

    I honestly think he would have gone the Bush, Cheney, Rove route, keep him alive and the threat always on people's mind. they did so well with their fear and war mongering and half of America bought it, and we lost an entire American decade because of it.

    April 30, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. scooter

    Saying he'd have done the same thing means nothing. 99.9999999% of Americans would have done the same thing. Its like Romney saying he'd breath air too.

    April 30, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  11. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    When Mittens loses in 2012, he can always run in the future as "Mitt Hindsight 2020." What a liar Mittens is.

    April 30, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  12. US Citizen

    Bill Clinton did not make this call, Bush 43 bombed the mountains in Afghanistan and OBL got away. Obama made the call - not knowing it was OBL for certain - and used our elite forces to be certain.

    Can we just be honest and say it was a tough decision, he made it and we celebrate it. Bush was right we will hunt you down UNTIL we find you. OBL's death solidifies we mean it.

    Rather than which political party gets credit or power can we please get to work on solving the F-N problems. Geez, these are the BEST America has to offer for our collective representation? Sen. McConnell still rings in my head - the ONLY important task we have is to make him a 1-term President. REALLY, that mission? God Bless America.

    April 30, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  13. Tex71

    Compared to Mitt Romney, even an octopus has a backbone like a ramrod.

    April 30, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  14. native new yorker

    Of course – and Romney would have ordered the bombing of Hiroshima and Sherman's destruction of Atlanta. It's all in the past – who knows if he really would have? What is the point here? Oh, wait.

    April 30, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  15. Dave

    LOL...certainly easy to say that now isn't it Mitty? Can we say Monday morning quarterback?

    April 30, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  16. loathstheright

    But Mitt the Vulture Capitalist tax cheat American Job destroyer didn't, Obama did and the Anti-American conservatives refuse to give him credit for it. And why? Because they hate America...or at least the smart Americans, you need to have a subpar IQ to be in their crowd.

    April 30, 2012 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. Jake

    and shame on the GOP, because Bush won re-election by running on "Osama is ALIVE, and he will terrorize America again unless you vote for me!"

    April 30, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    Pretty pathetic, Mr. Rmoney.

    April 30, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Person of Interest

    Nobody knows what Romney would have done. Even he doesn't. He would have needed to take a public opinion poll to get his answer and he would immediately retract the support of decision when public opinion went to the way side. Look how he immediately retracted his statement about spending too much money hunting for "one man."

    I don't dislike Romney for his decisions, I dislike Romney for his lack of decisions. He has no backbone and I wish it was due to his desire to compromise. Instead its his desire to stay in office so he goes whichever way the political winds are leaning and he's been very good at changing directions without huge consequences.

    April 30, 2012 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  20. Green Collar Worker

    Ol two face is at it again... Mitt Romney was against going after Bin Ladin before he was for it.

    April 30, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  21. TomGI

    I would expect this comment from Romney. Hindsight is always 20-20. Frankly, I don't believe he would have had the courage to give the "go ahead" on the 50-50 intelligence that Obama was faced with.

    April 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  22. Steve

    He called it 'foolish" when Obama said he would strike terrorists inside Pakistan if he had valuable intelligence. If it was a foolish thing to Ronmey then, why is it right now? Oh I forgot, it is now politically expedient for him to shift his position to the new reality on the ground. If Romney is elected President, the guy would have pulled off one of the greatest political frauds in the history of the United States. He would have fooled first, the Republicans and then the rest of us.

    April 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  23. Woman In California

    tykl wrote:

    ' Was it a difficult decision fraught with many unforeseeable outcomes? Yes. To call it courageous is hyperbolic crazy talk. And then to try and hang your foreign policy on that decision, even more crazy. And to use all this rouse as a way to distract from a failed presidency, brilliant.

    You think so? Really? Just wait until Willard tries "your logic" against our president and you'll see what hyperbolic crazy talk REALLY is. Willard is and has always been LESS than a man when it comes to military matters and each time his wife goes out in FRONT of him she proves it.

    April 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  24. nairb247

    Don't know of one president that wouldn't have given the order. It was a gutsy move by Obama, but it would have been a gutsy move by any president.

    April 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. mikle

    WE all crazy to give so much credit to Obama. 9 out 0f 10 will be give order. Navy seal – they real hero, not Obama.

    April 30, 2012 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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