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. Clem

    From calling Bush/Cheney war criminals to applauding Obama for killing Osama and other terrorists. It’s the liberal way – total hypocrisy. Independents see through this trash. Funny though.

    April 30, 2012 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  2. Dick Cheney is the smegma of mankind!

    This Saul twist is really starting to sound like a whiny middle school "mean girl"!

    April 30, 2012 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  3. gg

    romney saved the olympics with tax payer money–romney bankrupted bains shipped jobs to china stole peoples health care and pension money,with the help of tax payer money,weres the rest of the tax payer money cayman islands

    April 30, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  4. S-Hug

    Romney the Retractor!

    April 30, 2012 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  5. JustAO

    Even Romney doesn't remember what he said/believes in. So looking forward to presidential debates. Obama will be the moderator while Romney debates himself on stage.

    April 30, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  6. JP

    There are several things Obama said during campaign trails that did not happen, like closing of Guantanamo Bay and so forth.

    Getting Bin Laden was a great success, and the credit fully goes to the President for giving orders; but to beat drums and keep saying the other guy wouldn't have done it; I think it is demeaning.

    April 30, 2012 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  7. Steven Colo

    Obama's interviewing for a job. HE's listing his accomplishments.

    What does Saul mean when she refers to Romney's strong record in fighting terrorism? Did he make a speech or something? How could the governor of MA deal with terrorism?

    April 30, 2012 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  8. Hammer

    The last time President Obama went to Afghanistan to see the men he sent there was Dec.2010.What a man To busy .

    April 30, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  9. Steven Colo

    And as far as having the guts to take out bin Laden – Bush chickened out at Tora Bora. Not everyone would have gone for it.

    April 30, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  10. Namejkane fl live from teapublican moon base no taxes, no regulation no health care, free gas.

    Hay Andra, maybe you should start looking for a new job because your all going to get pink slips in Nov after Dem landslide win!!! Thanks teaparty and dip.

    April 30, 2012 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  11. Obi Won

    As an independent, I can say that I remember clearly that others in the republican party criticizing whether to go into another country to get a high value target. Bush said Bin Laden was no longer important and Romney made the same type of statement and his surrogates should stop trying to rewrite history/. He is constantly back tracking his statements when he realizes what came from the heart was not going to fly. Romney would not even speak up forcefully against Rush so he has no credibility on this issue that he would take the riskier route. In terms of the spend, billions are spend on intelligence in general and this operation provided many additional benefits

    April 30, 2012 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Centrist1

    I frankly don't understand the criticism that it was somehow unwise or ill-accomplished to eliminate one of the most established, organized, vile and dangerous mass-murderers (who was responsible for taking countless lives on American soil) in recent history. Speaking without my personal politics in mind, I applaud the president for his leadership as commander-in-chief during the operation. I'd be equally as proud had it been former president Bush who pulled the trigger.

    President Obama deserves credit for an accomplished mission under his command, which helped us reach an important milestone as a country. it has little to do with political parties or policies outside of the foreign affairs arena.

    People would do well to take a practical, impartial approaches to understanding issues of this nature.

    April 30, 2012 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  13. EDDIE

    Hey Tyki,go back and read what happened and how they actually found him.They did not know it was bin laden in that house they just used their intelligence they gathered and concluded it may be bin laden.They did not know it was him. It was the president who said "Go"and they did and it was him.If it wasn't him you repubs would have been all over Obama's back even more.If a repub would have been in office they would have invaded Pakistan instead.Remember Iraq? Probably not.Bottom line Mittens has been on record saying he would not waste his time or money going after the single most wanted man in U.S. History.The man who was responsible for the worst attack on U.S SOIL IN HISTORY. Thank God Obama had the ball's to do what mittens or any other repub couldn't,wouldn't do.So go ahead and down play it all you want.But bottom line is Osama bin laden is not killing anyone anymore thanks to the decison Obama made.So routine I think not . Hey Clem keep pulling that independent line they really need you.OBAMA 2012!!!!!!

    April 30, 2012 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Hammerer

    Obama riles against past interrogation tactics as being bad, but he considres himself a hero for ordering the killing of a man in the middle of the night in front of his family.
    Both actions are political driven!

    April 30, 2012 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  15. Robrob

    "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."

    That's going to haunt him.

    April 30, 2012 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  16. tykl

    @ EDDIE – You're assessment of how he was identified is no different from what I was thinking or how any of our intelligence comes to the military (there is rarely a 100% ID, sometimes it is even 50/50 as Obama claims this was). The question is did Obama spend billions going after one man? If not, then maybe you should check your hypocrisy about Mitt saying he wouldn't spend billions just to go after one man. And if you want to go back to account (as you mentioned, as if you have some sort of special knowledge), remember there was info from Gitmo that aided in this operation – Gitmo that was opened by another president (that all you Dems can't help but bring up in every post as if we supported him or as if you are running against him in this election) and that Obama swore/pandered to close down but didn't although he found the time to shove the largest piece of legislation of his term down our throats without one republican signature.

    April 30, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  17. Ken in MD

    The issue is that the Special Ops would never have found him, since Romney would not have told the Intelligence Community to look for him in the first place. Obama did, they found him, and now he's gone. Simple as that.

    April 30, 2012 05:52 pm at 5:52 pm |
  18. paul

    The Republicans must be running out of ammo. Choosing to criticize the president for taking out one of the worlds worst terrorists is an argument they lose every time. I know Republicans want to criticize Obama for everything he does but this shouldn't be one of them. Give the guy some credit and move to something else.

    April 30, 2012 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  19. Shannon

    LOL, the Republicans call the truth a cheap political ploy, I guess the concept of honesty is so foreign to them, they don't understand that most Americans appreciate the truth. Mitt Romney has been on both sides of every issue. Just this week, his spokesman said the auto bailout was Mitt's idea. Mitt must have zero respect for his base, because even they have to know, he said he would have let the auto industry fail, and would not have bailed them out. Good grief aren't you guys embarrassed to support this guy.

    April 30, 2012 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  20. Another Day in the RW Idiot Mines

    "There are several things Obama said during campaign trails that did not happen, like closing of Guantanamo Bay and so forth."

    Gitmo remains open solely because the cowardly chickenhawk bedwetters in the GOBP cult would allow it to be closed.

    April 30, 2012 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  21. Another Day in the RW Idiot MInes

    "How could Romney have been wrong when after Obama spent $30 billion trying to keep GM and Chrysler from going bankrupt and they went bankrupt anyway?"

    How can you be so wrong about what President Obama said. Before the rescue plan he clearly stated that the companies would still have to go through bankruptcy. The difference, which you and your rightwing defectives refuse to grasp, is that it was a restructuring bankruptcy using government money that was unavailable from the private credit markets. Rmoney wanted a bankruptcy liquidation, since there was no private capital available to otherwise rescue the auto companies. Now that it has been explained to you, can you please stop posting your phony "facts"?

    April 30, 2012 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  22. Wake up people

    Come on hammerer we are talking about Osama bin Laden, not some innocent person. Damn, can't you give the POTUS credit for anything? If Bush had ordered this attack I would have applauded him. But I wasn't raised to hate or think I am better than others.

    OBAMA 2012!

    April 30, 2012 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. Realist

    Ok...everyone will agree if Bush had caught Osama in his first turn we would have seen it all over tv in 04, and the republicans would have used it in 08.So stop crying and accept it.It was one of Obama accomplishments, that the republicans couldn't use.

    April 30, 2012 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  24. Nevander

    I don't remember seeing Obama dressed in a flight suit prancing around a US aircraft carrier, high-fiving military personnel with a big "Mission Accomplished" banner pasted on the ship. Now that would be inappropriate.

    Obama's comment was simply to make the point that Romney is slippery; he changes positions like the weather.

    April 30, 2012 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  25. Thomas

    Romney: 'Even Jimmy Carter' would have ordered bin Laden attack ? Speculation !

    Romney avoided military service , Romney's five sons avoided voluntary military service . Truth !

    I hope Romney would use the same analogy in comparing GW Bush and Carter , that would seen fare .

    April 30, 2012 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
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