Obama video: Would Romney have made same call on bin Laden?
April 27th, 2012
08:47 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama video: Would Romney have made same call on bin Laden?

Washington (CNN) - Former President Bill Clinton praised President Barack Obama's decision making process in last year's military raid that killed Osama bin Laden in a new web video out Friday by Obama's re-election team. The campaign video also questions whether Republican challenger Mitt Romney would have made the same call as the president.

"The president is the decider in chief. Nobody can make that decision for you," Clinton says in the web video. "Look, he knew what would happen. Suppose the Navy Seals had gone in there and it hadn't been bin Laden. Suppose they had been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him, but he reasoned I cannot in good conscience do nothing. He took the harder and the more honorable path and the one that produced in my opinion the best result."

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The video then asks "which path would Mitt Romney have taken" and includes a quote from a Reuters article from August 4, 2007, which said "Mitt Romney criticized Barack Obama for vowing to strike al-Qaeda targets inside Pakistan if necessary."

The video also highlights comments Romney made on April 27, 2007, to the Associated Press, during his first run for the White House, when he said "it's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." A clip of CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer referring to the quote is included in the video.

Days later, in an MSNBC presidential debate on May 3, 2007, Romney was asked by the moderator "can we move heaven and earth to do it?" He responded "we'll move everything to get him."

During his second run for the White House, Romney has credited Obama for launching the raid on bin Laden, while being critical of many aspects of the president's foreign policy.

"To his credit, the president ordered the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden," Romney said last June, at his campaign kick off speech.

While campaigning in Iowa in December, Romney said he was "glad he [Obama] ordered the killing of Osama bin Laden."

The latest Obama video ends with Clinton reflecting on the difficult decisions a president must make, saying of Obama: "He had to decide and that's what you hire a president to do. You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it."

The video's release comes one day after Vice President Joe Biden seemed to question whether Romney would have ordered the raid, saying "We can't say for certain what Governor Romney would have done."

Biden made the comments in campaign speech in New York City that centered on foreign policy.

The Romney campaign reacted to the speech and the video on Friday.

"The killing of Osama bin Laden was a momentous day for all Americans and the world, and Governor Romney congratulated the military, our intelligence agencies, and the President. It's now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters' attention from the failures of his administration," said Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul.

Tuesday is the first anniversary of the raid, in which the al Qaeda leader was killed by U.S. Navy Seals during a raid in Pakistan.

While the economy continues to dominate the race for the White House, the president's handling of foreign policy, from dealing with the nuclear threats from Iran and North Korea, to the war in Afghanistan and the Arab-Israeli peace process, to last year's fighting in Libya, came under attack from the Republican presidential candidates during the battle for the GOP nomination.

National polls indicate that a plurality of Americans approve of how Obama's handling the country's foreign policy and according to recent CNN/ORC International poll, by a 16-point margin, the public said that Obama would handle the job of commander in chief better than Romney.

- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz contributed to this report.

Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • Osama bin Laden • President Obama
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. Rudy NYC

    Mitt Romney has some personal explaining to do, and not through surrogates. Romney needs to answer the bell. We are not voting for his surrogates, or his advisors, or his people at the State Department.

    I fully expect the Romney team to waffle and completely bungle this issue, just like they did the tax return issues.

    April 27, 2012 09:04 am at 9:04 am |
  2. david williams

    it's likely Romney would have made the same call ... but then he would have been branded a war criminal by the media

    April 27, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  3. mcskadittle

    he would have declared war on Pakistan

    April 27, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  4. Larry Motsinger

    We need to focus on Obama's record in totality and not one single event. He took a bad economy and made it worse by adding trillions of dollars in new debt. The gulf oil spill was unduly prolonged because a failure of leadership. Obama's record has been constant camoaiging and numerous vacations and golf games. He deserves a permanent vacation.

    April 27, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  5. J Roby

    OBL Dead, GM Alive. Watch the Republican tea baggers whine

    April 27, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  6. Marie MD

    The flip,flopper would have never have the guts to do it. He also wouldn't have the presence of going to the correspondent WH dinner earlier in the night and then go do this most important job the Seals did which the tea baggers and teapublikans HAVE NEVER given him the credignhe deserves.
    Of course, since his sons have never served in the military nor has he, we would be at war with NKorea, Syria, Iran and possibly Russia. This guy has some baggage that I have no idea of how he is going to survive until the election eith sly the flip flopping.
    He might have won states recently but the numbernof voters was very small. I wouldn't be beating my bishop chest about it!

    April 27, 2012 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  7. JackWelchHasMoreMoneythanRomney

    Mitt gets cut in this round and has no defense against the attack. +1 Obama.

    April 27, 2012 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
  8. LIP

    The question for Bill is not what Romney would do...that is speculation and idle chit chat. We all know that Bill had three opportunities to take Bin Laden down and he passed on all three.

    April 27, 2012 09:16 am at 9:16 am |
  9. Maeve

    With all Romney's shifts in positions, I have to agree with Biden on this one: who the heck knows what choices he'd make in such situations. It's frightening that not only American citizens but also citizens of the world would only be able to guess as to the strength or weakness of such a chronically inconsistent would-be president.,

    April 27, 2012 09:30 am at 9:30 am |
  10. John

    Romney is not up to the job of commander and chief. He changed his position repeatedly whether going after Bin Laden was the right thing to do. Obama was decisive and not afraid to act when he had his chance. Obama was right and Romney was waffling and did not know what to do........

    April 27, 2012 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  11. chuck weidemann

    Only the "bomb,bomb,bomb,...bomb,bomb Iran" crowd has a problem with the President's foreign policy! The rest of us want our children and grandchildren not fighting in any more "go it alone" or "preemptive" wars. I never understood what you were "preempting" anyway....certainly not a war!

    April 27, 2012 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  12. Squire James

    I'm pretty sure just about anyone would have taken the chance if Osama bin Laden was handed to them like that. Neither Clinton nor Bush got this easy a choice (despite what partisans of the opposing sides say on the matter). Obama should be complimented for not bungling it, but this one was fish in a barrel. I guess it makes good political theater, but not much else.

    April 27, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  13. lyn

    GOD BLESS OUR PRESIDENT OBAMA he look at the situation in every angle carefully before he take us to WAR, not like the party of NO who will take us to WAR again and again without any thought of the situation.

    April 27, 2012 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  14. Rosslaw

    Maybe Romney should just keep reminding everyone how he got over a billion dollars in federal funds to bail out the Salt Lake City Olympics. Romney seems to be really proud of that for some reason.

    April 27, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  15. Gurgyl

    Don't we know Bush made OBL escape from tors bora? World know, America knew. Bin Laden killed GM alive. Bain-Capital got to be an idiot. Obama12.

    April 27, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  16. Is Mitt a Git?

    Listen to these jerky republicans trying to defend Romney. It's so pathetic. Romney's advisors made comments about foreign policy recently and named countries that don't exist anymore, and Romney has himself labeled Russia the No. 1 enemy of the US–not any country in the middle east, or North Africa.

    Not only are Romney and his advisors clueless on foreign policy, they are also clueless about events that happened 20+ years ago and may have an issue with geography as well.

    April 27, 2012 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  17. Lizzie

    Pres.Clinton had the chance of taking bin Laden out, he opted not to stating he is no threat.

    April 27, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  18. Dave

    Well, Romey would have conducted polling, then he wouuld have changed his mind a few times, then he would have made a final decision only to change his position later.

    April 27, 2012 09:53 am at 9:53 am |
  19. Lizzie

    Rudy NYC, so you would like to hear from Pres.Obama not from his surrogates, his stand on class warfare, the debt, the economy, uniting the country, etc.etc.

    April 27, 2012 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. tykl

    Just to be clear, Obama was a community organizer before becoming President. So his foreign policy experience was nowhere above zero. So to pretend he is some sort of foreign policy guru is just to repeat Dems' straw man arguments. Any sort of examination of his foreign policy shows a completely disorganized, disjointed and sometimes dangerous spasm of policies.

    April 27, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  21. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I really doubt that Bush would have taken out bin Laden. He did not seem to care about finding the master mind of 9-11, and dropped the ball on getting him in favor of an unnecessary war in Iraq.

    April 27, 2012 09:58 am at 9:58 am |
  22. Pete

    He's good at killing jobs,Romney is,but this is not his cup of tea.He'd have to discuss at length what they would do and perhaps then he'd probibly overdue it.He'd send in an air strike and totally destroy the village.Or better yet start a war with Pakistan,he'd and the war hawkish republicans would be drooling over that idea,just total incompetentcy.Then he ,like Bush ,would put up jobs for the venders,food ,legistics,transportation,weapons,etc on the open market for a global bidding war.Romney the corporate puppet for the Koch brothers and Rove would let free enterprise go wild,ruining quidelines already in place,or replacing,removing amendments he deems as red tape to his political agenda,the corporate agenda that paid his way to the WH....

    April 27, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  23. tykl

    @ Rosslaw – just because I have an extra few minutes this morning, I'll respond to your weak post. The federal gov't has always paid for transportation and security for the Olympics. That is all Romney got from the government. If it was so easy, why were the Olympics in millions of dollars of debt? Sometimes the best solutions are the most obvious (if you have ever been in charge of anything). Here's one for you to try on as well – privatizing Medicare. That is sure to instigate a spasm of disjointed comments, but just let me ask you, if the US Postal Service and FedEx were in charge of Medicare, who would you rather have run it (especially since Medicare will run out of funds within the next decade/decade and a half)? If you answer US Postal Service, you will expose yourself for just begin a lackey.

    April 27, 2012 10:02 am at 10:02 am |
  24. SMH DP

    Mitt Romney will took out Bin Laden with totally different approach and stragety in my opinion. He would use a tactic of sending many of our troops to the compound and bomb everything, killing innocent individuals in the process. His plan will cost of millions, if not billions of dollars and leaving behind many causalties. Mission Accomplished. SMH.

    April 27, 2012 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  25. Lynda/Minnesota

    Watching Romney flail from one subject to another isn't exactly a confidence builder. Nor is sending millions of dollars of investment money to the Cayman Islands and Switzerland a "Pride in America" message I'm willing to go the extra mile for. Trying to re-ignite the cold war is definitely on my list of talking point no-no.

    For a guy who's been preparing for this golden moment of his near on forever now (OK - ten years) he's, well, hopelessly lacking.

    April 27, 2012 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
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