Politics of bin Laden: 'Fair game' vs. 'divisive'
April 29th, 2012
11:08 AM ET
10 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.

- Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

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. king

    Obama made a bold and courageous move to give the order to get bin lading, how many repubs would have done that when they knew their was a witch to prove that this president wasn't good on foreign policies. Not old scary butt mitt. He changes position every time he thinks there some heat in the pipeline down the road. Mitten is too scared of the far right winged, which has to prove his severely right wingship to on a daily basis. I am 100 hundred percent sure mitten would not have made the Obama decision and go get bin gladden. John mccane on the other hand would have proclaimed war on Pakistan putting billions of dollars and thousands of lives in the wood work.

    April 29, 2012 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  2. Will

    Republicans just want EVERYONE to forget that it was Obama that GOT bin Laden!

    April 29, 2012 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  3. vic , nashville ,tn

    COMPARE what Dick Cheney said in 2004

    “It’s absolutely essential that eight weeks from today, on Nov. 2, we make the right choice, because if we make the wrong choice then the danger is that we’ll get hit again and we’ll be hit in a way that will be devastating from the standpoint of the United States,” Dick Cheney in 2004

    April 29, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  4. MaryM

    What if a Republican President had killed osama bin laden? huh? What do you think the Repubs would be saying?

    April 29, 2012 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  5. vic , nashville ,tn

    Killing Osama Bin laden is success story, we always proud of our success

    Republicans don’t like to talk about Osama Bin Laden death that mean they don’t appreciate our men and women in the uniform

    April 29, 2012 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  6. Thomas

    "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority." – G.W. Bush, 3/13/02.

    Republicans are the Snivelers .

    Bush and friends were to busy keeping a strong economy !

    April 29, 2012 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  7. geggyg

    Many repubs are claiming Pres Obama is divisive for alledgedly politicizing the death of Osama Bin Laden , where were they when Pres Bush and the repub campaign team labeled any who had any doubts about the Bush war policy as terrorist sympathisers even if they voted to allow his policies to be implemented. Remember Senator Max Cleland who in 2002 was defeated in the senate election when they used pics of Bin Laden and Sadam Hussien in campain ads to imply he supported them and was unamerican even though he served in NAM and lost 2 legs and a arm i believe. Now that is what i call politicixing the war on terror and done by repubs

    April 29, 2012 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  8. AG

    Absolutely "fair game"! Great accomplishment by Commander in Chief Obama and his team! I guess Osama supports will object.

    April 29, 2012 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  9. Anonymous

    "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."

    I don't think Mr. Romney wants to go the "I'd be a stonger COC route". From where he (Romney) stands now, dude can't even decide where he is, let alone who he is from one day to the next. Beyond that, OBL is now dead, and whatever Romney might have done differently will never be known.

    April 29, 2012 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
  10. andy_txn

    The President makes decisions that put our military in harms way . With today's electronics he can see real time movement of the military operations & the casualties which result from the operation. It is a cold hard fact that "the buck stops here". President Obama needs our support in making these very hard decisions .

    April 29, 2012 11:45 am at 11:45 am |
  11. DarqueSide

    If Bush had killed Bin Laden before the 2004 elections, there is no doubt he would have used it as part of his reelection campaign. It's politics. In this case, Obama can actually claim 'Mission Accomplished'... a feat his predecessor tried to trumpet YEARS before the fighting actually stopped.

    April 29, 2012 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  12. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    When Bush landed on an air craft carrier with a "Mission Accomplished" banner, the right wingnuts wanted to put him on Mt. Rushmore. When we found out "W's" presidency was made of of lies, that we had accomplished nothing and his leadership put us in a mess, we wanted him out. As for divisive, when the GOP wages a war on women, minorities, seniors, veterans, workers, colleges students, uninsured, Hispanics, and children, that is not how to bring a country together.

    April 29, 2012 12:01 pm at 12:01 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    "I don't think Mr. Romney wants to go the "I'd be a stonger COC route".

    Darn fingers...should have been CIC (Commander In Chief) not COC as I previously posted.

    "Obama made a bold and courageous move to give the order to get bin lading, how many repubs would have done that when they knew their was a witch to prove that this president wasn't good on foreign policies."

    I agree 100%. GW was too yellow to go after him at all, which is why no credit has been given to President Obama from the rightwingers. They know the truth, and it hurts them. BIG TIME.

    April 29, 2012 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  14. Four and The Door

    Who can blame Obama for milking it? The one thing in his entire administration that worked and some people want to deny his attempt to build a re-election campaign around it?

    Romney 2012

    April 29, 2012 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  15. Bob

    LOL."Kill the most despised man of this generation!" Really tough order to give. How many of us would have said 'no' had we been given the decision? Does this make this president 'noble'...'strong'...'tough'? If all things were 'good' in the world and his ratings were above 75% or 65% and the economy was OK...would he have given the same order? We are all too quick to view a situation as if it is pure of heart and action without pollution from the world around it. Yes, this president has no problem inflicting drone damage on others from half a world away and many here will applaud that but of wars past and in countries around this world we will be seen as cowards hiding behind our technology. History will someday show what kind of country the USA was and is and it may not be kind. Noble and courageous? I doubt we will be viewed as such by another part of the world that will rise as we subside. The once cradle of civilization is now the hell hole of the world and in time so to we will probably become such becasue we make judgements with such a narrow focus. 'Kill BinLaden' is both a sign of strength and weakness. The idea that killing would be used to win an election certainly shows that we have come to understand being civilized has not much meaning after all.

    April 29, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. NotFooledByDistractions

    I think it's absolutely fair game. It's factually correct to state that Mr. Romney has made comments that indicate he would not have taken similar action. If you want to argue against Mr. Romneys own words, go right ahead – we'll be doing that a lot in the run up to the election since romney has taken so many contradictory terms.

    I especially think it's fair to use bin laden – after all, the republicans used it negatively against anyone who didn't agree with their bogus wars. Remember the good old "with us or against us" days – and the days of republicans calling others traitors coupled with labeling folks as unAmerican.

    Yep, celebrating success where the republicans gave us nothing but failure is definitely fair game.

    April 29, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  17. PTNY

    Can't have it both ways.

    You say, "All of America is wrong, but you and our MIA president are always right."

    All of America meaning exactly who? Main Stream Media (you blame them) all of us (54% of US) Europe, Women and the current administration are all wrong?

    April 29, 2012 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  18. enuff

    Bush used 9/11 to scare people and question patriotism in his campaign. Why can't Obama use Bin Laden?

    April 29, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  19. PTNY

    Osama Bin Laden

    Under Bush = 2 years 1/2 billion Thousands of troops
    Obama = 5 months Rent on a house in Pakistan 8 troops

    You decide.

    April 29, 2012 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  20. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Four – Get a clue. Republicans have been on the wrong side of every important issue for America for 20 years. If you eliminate the 434 promises that Obama kept, you take away 3 years of success. Your candidate, the anointed one of the Kochs and Rove, Mittens, is an empty suit who was born in the end zone and he thinks he scored a touchdown.

    April 29, 2012 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  21. PJ/TX

    It's legitimate to ask "what would Romney have done".
    Romney's foreign policy, in his own words, along with the above quote, add:
    "..if we want someone who has a lot of experience in foreign policy, we can simply go to the State Department...
    A President is not a foreign policy expert". – 2007-
    "The President could have gotten crippling sanctions against Iran. He did not".
    Actually, according to the Congressional Research Service Department, Dec, 2011:
    "The Country (USA) now has the "most sweeping sanctions on Iran of virtually any Country in the World".
    So, Ed Gillespie, co-founder of Crossroads along with Rove, is one of the last people I would give credence to.
    He is simply a lisason between Crossroads (aka the hate machine) and Romney.
    Romney is weak if he has to depend on Bush re-runs.

    April 29, 2012 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    It's not President Obama's problem that Republicans can't handle the truth. If GW had taken out bin Laden, the GOP would have used that as an excuse to declare GW "president for life."

    But then again, we all know that Bush and the GOP had no intention of ever getting bin Laden: they needed him as a boogieman to justify their endless "war on terror" aka, reason to increase military spending/line the pockets of Halliburton and the military-industrial complex/balloon the debt/use as an excuse to eliminate social spending.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 29, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  23. B

    It is very obvious why the Republicans are making this divisive after listening to Bush tell the World that he – really wasn’t interested – in going after Bin Lade in his laid-back stupid style.

    Bush was too busy Starting yet another War for Oil which his benefactors really wanted him to pursue for their benefit.

    Americans understand the true motivations of the Republicans now, especially after McConell’s declaration of making Obama a- one term President-.

    They have shown their Hand to us all.

    April 29, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  24. ThinkAgain

    Republicans are just jealous because the only thing GW Bush ever mentioned as a "success" for his presidency was No Child Left Behind – and even THAT was an EPIC FAILURE.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 29, 2012 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  25. ThinkAgain

    @NotFooledByDistractions: "Yep, celebrating success where the republicans gave us nothing but failure is definitely fair game."

    Excellent post – love your screen name! If only more people were not bamboozled by all the GOP noise ...

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 29, 2012 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
1 2 3