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

    From January 2001 through January 2009, the Republicans were in COMPLETE control of the government. We were hit with the worst terrorist attack on American soil, started two wars that were not paid for, and suffered the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression and Republicans claim Obama is a failure?

    April 29, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. BeverlyNC

    Republicans are desperate, very desperate, and will step up their hate, lies, and criticism of anything and everything President Obama says or does. If a Republican says it, just know it is a lie or a distortion. They are incapable of facts or truth about history. Their TV ads will be vicious, false, and full of hate and racism. Expect it and ignore them. Stand up for our one true honest successful leader – President Obama who has worked non-stop for 4 years for We the People and the issues most important to us. He cares about ALL of us – not just the white and rich and corporations. He fights for us, has created jobs, has created programs to help homeowners defrauded by Republican-backed Wall St. He has increased our national security, got Osama bin Laden, gained the respect of the world for the US again. He saved the auto industy and now it is the #1 car industry in the world making record profits and hiring 10s of thousands of workers a month as their sales go up and up. President Obama policies have not failed they have succeeded and it drives the Republicans mad with envy so they lie and slander and disrespect our President.
    We need to clean out the House of all Republicans so we can have a working government for a re-elected President Obama to pass laws to help our nation finishing recovering with. We need to remove all Republicans from every local, state office as well so we can repeal all the extremist anti-women laws, extremist take away our right to vote laws, and put forth education as our first priority along with smart projects like infrastructure and new energy.
    We can succeed as a People and a nation. We just need to get the Republicans out of our way.

    April 29, 2012 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  3. Jules

    This is really crazy. Every year we remember the 3,000 people killed on 9/11 and we rightly sing the praises of the heros in the plane over the fields of PA, but we should not remember that justice was brought to the man who masterminded the killing of all those people. The terrorists must love that the GOP are fighting about giving President Obama and our military the credit they deserve. Instead of saying that this is what happens when you attack us on our homeland, they would rather not say that and go after President Obama. This has to be the most mean spirited, spiteful, hateful people that have ever been in politics. Put Country before Party – ever hear that. That is what President Obama did when he authorized the Navy Seals to go in and take Bin Laden out. Hooray for our brave and wise President and for the Navy Seals that did us so proud. By the way, Mr. President, you can run that day all day long, Americans should never forget 9/11 and they should never forget we brought justice to the man who perpetrated the mass killing of Americans on American soil.

    April 29, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  4. gaylon38

    Gibbs your statement of Obama being responsible for Bin Laden's death is a disgrace and a dishonor to the U.S. Department of Defense who have worked on getting Bin Laden every since George Jr ordered them to do so. He was responsible for Bin Laden's demise. Plus the Seal Team 6 who carried out those orders. Obama is chicken coup inside a foxes mouth when it comes to the strength of the Military and the Military knows this. Especially after the disgraceful actions he pulled on the Marine who was using his right of freedom of speech. Obama needs to be impeached and especially not reelected. It will be the greatest shame ever to befall on this country.

    April 29, 2012 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  5. Mike in Texas

    If the decision Obama made to take out Osama Bin Laden didn't work the way it did, all you would hear from Republicans is how terrible Obama is.

    Republican's were cheering when we were still losing jobs.
    Republicans cheered when we lost the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

    Republicans give Obama zero credit for anything, nada, zilch. They even give Bush credit for Bin Laden's death and keeping us out a depression. The later is like shooting someone and then calling 911 to save their life.

    Republicans care about party and power over country.

    April 29, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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