April 30th, 2012
03:16 PM ET
11 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. cali girl

    Called Robmey on the carpet. Yep.

    April 30, 2012 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  2. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    Rmoney's campaign is rapidly turning into a decaying corpse that mirrors the GOBP cult's own disintegration. Twice now they've tried to play the Rove game of attacking their oppenent's strength (women and OBL in Rmoney's case) and both times Rmoney not only fails to land a punch, he's sent reeling from the counterpunches. He may be down for the count by July.

    April 30, 2012 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    I would suggest that Romney remember that Carter accomplished something no other American president before him did: he got a peace treaty signed between Israel and an Arab country. Romney, had he been in politics at the time, would never have done anything that bold, since the actuarial tables and the well-oiled political weathervane he uses for making decisions would have told him it was too risky.

    April 30, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  4. ja

    america has one president and anyone else is a sofa chair president, including romney, until faced with the task, if not advising the president most should mute

    April 30, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  5. Laverne

    Nice try Romney, but your flip flopping is about to catch up to you! Those were your words NOT Obama's, you can't even stand up and call out Rush Limbaugh so how in the world is anyone to believe you will be bold enough to make any touch decisions when it comes to national security and foreign policy.

    April 30, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  6. ST

    "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." said Pres. Obama.
    Brilliant Mr. President. I can smell a very heated up debate ahead.

    April 30, 2012 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  7. Joe from CT, not Lieberman

    Sorry, Willard, but I do not believe that Jimmy Carter would have given that order, seeing as how he had that same opportunity with others and refused to take it. If fact, given the Presidents since 1900, the only ones I can think of besides Carter who would probably not have carried out that order would have been Coolidge and Hoover

    April 30, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  8. tykl

    How about "I'll close Gitmo"? Maybe you should trade in the soap box for something more fitting.

    April 30, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  9. Bill

    Everything out of Romney's mouth is a contradiction of something he has previously said. A flip-flopping buffoon. No matter, he will never be president.

    April 30, 2012 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  10. Tired of the republican lies

    @ Bill....We would hope not...well said!

    April 30, 2012 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  11. RandyIA

    I keep hearing "OBL dead. GM alive." I just did a little checking. At one point or another there were over 1800 US auto makers. Why weren't the other 1798 (Ford didn't take money) bailed out.

    April 30, 2012 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  12. Omar Dice

    ‎I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby designate March 21, 1983 as Afghanistan Day.

    The tragedy of Afghanistan continues as the valiant and courageous Afghan freedom fighters [The Taliban] persevere in standing up against the brutal power of the Soviet invasion and occupation. The resistance of the Afghan freedom fighters is an example to all the world of the invincibility of the ideals we in this country hold most dear, the ideals of freedom and independence.
    The Afghan people are struggling to reclaim their freedom, which was taken from them when the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in December of 1979.

    In Facts, 10. Reagan helped create the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden. Reagan fought a proxy war with the Soviet Union by training, arming, equipping, and funding Islamist mujahidin fighters in Afghanistan. Reagan funneled billions of dollars, along with top-secret intelligence and sophisticated weaponry to these fighters through the Pakistani intelligence service. The Talbian and Osama Bin Laden — a prominent mujahidin commander — emerged from these mujahidin groups Reagan helped create, and U.S. policy towards Pakistan remains strained because of the intelligence services’ close relations to these fighters. In fact, Reagan’s decision to continue the proxy war after the Soviets were willing to retreat played a direct role in Bin Laden’s ascendancy.

    Message to ALL GOP.. Reagan and the Taliban. Neocons either conveniently forget that or are just too stupid to know better!!...

    April 30, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  13. sonny chapman

    Jimmy Carter served in the U.S. Military, unlike many Repub. Chicken Hawks, past & present.

    April 30, 2012 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  14. Silence DoGood

    @tykl How about "I'll close Gitmo"?

    Good point.

    You are only supposed to remember the select promises that were kept. And resuming tribunals and all the military spending and blind eye to torture and robot drones bombing villages and almost opening up a new war front in Libya, that is all part of the Ministry of Peace ("1984").

    When did international assassination become a qualification for a liberal candidate? Remember Nixon & Viet Nam? Part of the Pentagon Papers and the outrage was that he was sending military into countries we were not at war with.

    Next time vote third party for a real change.

    April 30, 2012 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  15. Are you kidding me?

    Which is it Mitt? Actions speak louder than words. The President made the call and he did not take a victory lap for it either. Instead he did not gloat or mention it until he was asked.

    Shame you can't see the truth staring you in the face. The writing is on the wall – you are just not cut out for the white house Willard.

    April 30, 2012 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  16. ThinkAgain

    "He [President Obama] 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."

    Contrast this to President Obama's statements on March 19, 2008: "If we have actionable intelligence about high-level al Qaeda targets in Pakistan's border region, we must act if Pakistan will not or cannot."

    Robmey = Flip-flopper extraordinaire
    Obama = A man of his word

    Obama/Biden 2012

    April 30, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. carl12

    It has to be tough running a presidential campaign on pure hot air. The Romney campaign is doing what they can with it.

    April 30, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  18. Marie MD

    There is so much wrong with the flip flopper's campaign I don't know where to start.
    He has flip flopped on pro choice, planned parenthood, guns, women's rights, healthcare, taxes, immigration, trees, energy, you name it he was for it at one time or another and now hens against it.
    Anithernthing I would like to tell the $250M bishop robot, STOP using your wife at every turn and small rally, she needs to disappear because the harm has been done as far as what she DOESNT bringnto your campaign for women!!!

    April 30, 2012 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  19. jpmichigan

    Be careful Mr. President, very careful, for we can also call you out on some of the stupid remarks you have made in the past that can haunt you! You staed during your first campaign that Ptesident Bush was un patriotic for having a 4 trillion dollars in debt. While you ran up more than that in three years, so are you to unpatriotic? Believe me there are plenty more like that, where you spoke before thinking, in other words acted stupidly!!!!!!

    April 30, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  20. Nothing will ever be good enough for the haters

    I am so proud of the POTUS. He is a man among boys.

    OBAMA 2012!! 4 MORE YEARS!!

    April 30, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  21. After being caught with his pants down, Mitt Romeny said . . .

    I am not nor have I ever been without pants . . .

    April 30, 2012 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  22. ThinkAgain

    @RandyIA: "I keep hearing "OBL dead. GM alive." I just did a little checking. At one point or another there were over 1800 US auto makers. Why weren't the other 1798 (Ford didn't take money) bailed out."

    What a dumb comment! Cite your sources for the "At one point or another there were over 1800 US auto makers." Also, how many were around in 2008? Surely, you're not expecting President Obama to have traveled back in time and bailed out all the non-existent automakers, right?

    Thankfully, President Obama has a much better handle on the real economic implications of letting the US auto industry go under, specifically, the millions of jobs that would have been lost in the auto industry itself and all the supporting industries.

    Robmey, on the other hand, only knows how to break up American companies, lay off American workers and ship American jobs overseas.

    I'm sticking with the man who's PROVEN he knows how to lead our country forward: President Obama 2012

    April 30, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  23. American

    Romney's constant flip-flopping does not convey confidence for the American people.

    Romney has been weak in his unwillingness to personally stand up to Ted Nugent & Rush Limbaugh. His own words on OBL reveal Romney's continued waffling & indecisiveness, not leadership.

    April 30, 2012 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  24. Bye Bye Republican Party: I HEAR your goose steps

    "I assume that people meant what they said when they said it." -Obama

    wrong assumption if you are talking about a GOP flip flopper.
    They don't mean much and they are not sure what they meant, other than to get elected at all cost.
    But they will move heaven and earth, and spend billions of dollars just trying to get Romney elected.

    In the GOP's own words,
    "I believe what I said yesterday. I don't know what I said, but I know what I think, and, well, I assume it's what I said."
    -Rumsfeld (assume anything now, you can lie about it later)

    "If I said yes, that would then suggest that that might be the only place where it might be done which would not be accurate, necessarily accurate. It might also not be inaccurate, but I'm disinclined to mislead anyone."
    -Rumsfeld (who is disinclined to lead anyone, and should be prohibited by act of congress)

    “You can fool some of the people all the time, and those are the ones you want to concentrate on.”
    -Bush43 (suckers born all the time, let's find them, so they do what we tell them)

    April 30, 2012 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  25. RealityBites

    Meanwhile.., out here in reality.
    The economy is slumping again, massive layoffs loom large and Odumacrats can't come up with a budget that doesn't pile at least 1$ TRILLION+ PER YEAR onto our national debt. A debt that our children and grandchildren will pay for of course. But Hey! Why hold the president accountable for these things he has had no control over.., right?

    April 30, 2012 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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