Obama adds 'al Qaeda' back to stump speech
October 18th, 2012
12:45 PM ET
10 years ago

Obama adds 'al Qaeda' back to stump speech

Manchester, New Hampshire (CNN) - President Barack Obama added the words "al Qaeda" back in to his stump speech Thursday after a shift in the language he used to describe terrorists on the campaign trail.

"I made some commitments four years ago. I told you I would end the war in Iraq and we did it. I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan, we are. I said we'd refocus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11 and we have. And today a new tower rises above the new York skyline and al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and Osama bin Laden is dead," Obama said at a campaign rally in Manchester, New Hampshire. A city official estimated 6,000 people attended the event at a park in the city's downtown.

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The phrase "al Qaeda is on the path to defeat" was the notable addition to his remarks. Obama has often used the phrase "al Qaeda is on the run" when describing his national security bona fides, most recently last Thursday in Miami.

"I said we'd refocus on the people who actually attacks us on 9/11 and today, al Qaeda is on the run and Osama bin Laden is dead," he said.

But at stops in Iowa and Ohio Wednesday, Obama used a different descriptor, dropping the "al Qaeda" reference.

"I said we'd end the war in Afghanistan and we are, I said we'd focus on the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and we have, and bin Laden is dead," he said.

The president's foreign policy critics said the apparent change was a sign he is acknowledging the administration mishandled their public response to the attack in Libya.

The White House said earlier Thursday that nothing shifted in their analysis of al Qaeda.

White House National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor told CNN, "Our assessment that we have decimated al Qaeda leadership is unchanged."

"Dozens of their senior leadership have been taken off the battlefield as a result of the president's anti-terror policies," Vietor said. "We know affiliates like al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula will seek to target us and that's why we go after them relentlessly."

When asked about the different language aboard Air Force One Thursday en route Manchester, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney echoed Vietor's sentiments.

"Our efforts against al Qaeda have inarguably led to success and progress but the work is not yet done," he told reporters, according to the pool report.

Filed under: 2012 • Obama administration • President Obama
soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. Critical Thinking

    Lets see, al Qaeda is attacking and burning down U.S. Embassy's, killing U.S. citizens, Taking down U.S. flags and replacing them with al Qaeda flags, burning in the streets in effigy our current U.S. President.

    Yes, I can see that we have them on the run Mr. President. Delusional doesn't even come close to describing this assesment by the White House.

    October 18, 2012 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  2. Carol

    Thanks to Crowley , your biased moderator, president Obama was allowed to once again spin a lie about our embassy! Now he wants to pretend he was addressing the attack on our embassy when in fact he told blowhard joy behar that he didn't know. Which is the truth since he rarely meets with his security council.

    October 18, 2012 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    This is the best they can come up with? Absurd semantic games? blatantly stretched, tortured and intentional misintepretations of what Obama says? Mark this down as just another sign of desperation, nothing more.

    Can't wait to see what the conspiracy theory is that they dump on us tomorrow afternoon. It's pretty predictable that one is coming if you ask me. They'll dump it tomorrow with no time for anyone to fact check it prior to the debate...probably no ability to fact check it anyway given that the investigations are ongoing, etc....and the MSM will let it go unchallenged. Then, Mittens will try to use it to "corner" Obama on Monday. Watch.

    October 18, 2012 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  4. Critical Thinking

    Obama has often used the phrase "al Qaeda is on the run"

    Mr. President, they are running towards us, not away from us.

    October 18, 2012 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  5. Anthony in California

    @Critical Thinking
    Obama has often used the phrase "al Qaeda is on the run"

    Mr. President, they are running towards us, not away from us.

    Really? Last I checked, all of their leadership had been handled pretty well by Obama. Now if you want to claim that a group of loosely organized rebels in Libya who killed 4 (1 of which was American) is now "running towards us" then so be it?
    But I also I saw a 20 year old white student with an AR walk into a movie theater in Colorado and kill more Americans then these rebels. Does that mean we should go after all the white-male-medical students as well?

    October 18, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  6. cuisinemanager

    I think the American people know what is really happening here. Obama is radically changing his story for nothing more than political reasons. This is a sad day for the Obama campaign to have to resort to these deceptive, dishonest last ditch tactics.

    October 18, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |

    Critical Thinking – You're absolutely correct.

    October 18, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  8. Boss69

    Reagan was essentially an arms broker for most of the terrorist organizations we face, seem to forget that when discussing terrorism. "We will not negotiate with terrorists!" (But we WILL sell them the rocket launcher they need to kill americans). You say Obama has the blood of those 4 americans on his hands, I think he made it clear he feels the same and faced their families. How much blood is on GOP hands? If FOX news signal was blocked for a week how many IDIOTs would be catatonic because they weren't told what to think?

    October 18, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |

    Romney says Obama also has investments in Chinese companies and through a Cayman Islands trust

    PolitiFact states MOSTY TRUE.

    Why do you criticize others for having accounts off shore when you yourself have them Obama?

    October 18, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |

    It's apparent Obama doesn't know where his money is, do you think he cares about yours?

    ROMNEY / RYAN 2012

    October 18, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  11. Name really!!

    I guess we should have blamed Bush and the repubs for the 9/11 attacks in 01 !!!!!

    October 18, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  12. Sniffit

    "Why do you criticize others for having accounts off shore when you yourself have them Obama?'

    Because Obama truly has no control of how those fedearl pension fund investments are made. Mittens, on the other hand, has a VOLUNTARY blind trust that he set up to give the APPEARANCE of having no control over hwo its investments are made. Funny though...it still invested $1M in Tagg's little company....

    October 18, 2012 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |
  13. kevin

    Al Q is like the mob-you take out one leader and another steps forward. From what Obama said he seems to think just because Bin Liden is dead we have won. The Iraq pull out was planned when Bush was in office and started while Bush was in office and Obama is trying to ride the coattails like he was responsiable. According to the 60 Minutes report Obama has turned Afghanistan into a bloody mess and the taliban and al q are stronger now then they were 4 years ago. His blinders aided vision led to Libya embassy murders. Obabma is a disgrace when it comes to protecting us. He thinks the job is done and winding down.

    October 18, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. GI Joe

    He hasn't flown onto the deck of an aircraft carrier and declared "mission accomplished". Now THAT idiot was delusional.

    As a retired white man, I will never trust Mitt Romney because he has lied for 6 years, flip-flopped on every stance he has taken (SEVERAL TIMES), AND is a rude, over-bearing, condescending bast-rd. I don't trust him at all.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 18, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  15. GI Joe

    Maybe we should have impeached Reagan when the barracks was over-run in Lebabon and 200+ killed.

    Stuff happens, and sometimes it takes time to get to the bottom of it. I'm so sick of republicans I could scream.

    Obama/Biden 2012

    October 18, 2012 01:51 pm at 1:51 pm |
  16. rdsink

    Does anyone seriously believe AQ is on the road to defeat? This is an honest question. I'm not trying to be condescending.

    October 18, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  17. Sniffit

    "Maybe we should have impeached Reagan when the barracks was over-run in Lebabon and 200+ killed."

    Or when he armed the Taliban in the first place.

    October 18, 2012 02:03 pm at 2:03 pm |
  18. Sniffit

    "I'm so sick of republicans I could scream."

    Save your energy for helping to build the guilloines, cuz if Mittens is elected, we'll be needing them within the next couple decades.

    October 18, 2012 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. taxmitt

    I would not trust Mitt to handle anything outside of his business practice. He has no understanding of military affairs or how we operate.
    Obama throughout his presidency has looked after veterans like myself since his inception. Mitt is a Chicken Hawk at best. He should go back to France.
    Obama has Increased the Veterans Administration budget to recruit and retain more mental health professionals and expanded Veterans Centers in rural areas. He fully funded the Veterans Administration budget. Expanded the Veterans Administration's number of "centers of excellence" in specialty care. Expanded housing vouchers program for homeless veterans. Obama launched a supportive services-housing program for veterans to prevent homelessness. His wife continues to support us with real solutions and her relentless outreach although it is not publicized enough.

    I get sick and tired of American citizens who ask the military to sacrifice our young and want to elect a guy like MItt (Chicken Hawk) Romney who has done nothing but run when his number came up.
    I am sticking with Obama/Biden 2012

    October 18, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  20. rdsink

    Taxmitt, While I deeply appreciate your service to the great nation, I disagree with your assessment of Romney. President Obama has little understanding of what our military goes through and most of what he has done for veterans are extensions of policies that were already in place. Obama's ROEs in Afghanistan, publicized timelines for withdraws and the handling of Iraq has literally caused lives. Go look at how many servicemen we've lost since he took office. In addition, AQI is growing and thriving in Iraq not to mention in Africa.

    October 18, 2012 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  21. Fact

    Must be he saw Lara Logan's video about Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Now, if you thought he formerly was implying that they were "on the run" away from us, don't be surprised when he spins it to imply they are still running toward us. So much for his national security and foreign policy when he has to get the real report from a war correspondent.

    America vs. Obama/Biden 2012
    Romney/Ryan 2012

    October 18, 2012 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  22. Veteran of 20 years


    Obama has shown no understanding of military affairs or how we operate.

    While the VA budget has been acceptable, there are more serious areas that are an issue. To be honest I've not seen any real changes in the VA. At least none that have had any impact on my life. The added healthcare expense however, will impact me.

    "We are, however, concerned that budget cuts currently under consideration by the Department of Defense could undermine the viability of the all-volunteer force by changing the current military retirement system and by diverting more health care costs—higher enrollment fees and prescription co-payments—onto the backs of military retirees who were first required to donate 20 or more years of their youth to their nation. This is in addition to previously announced plans to shrink the size of the active-duty force,"

    -Joe Davis, director of public affairs for Veterans of Foreign Wars

    Obama has never served a day in his life and Democrats have constantly undermined efforts to provide a better lifestyle. I don't see how supporting him will include any changes over the next 4 years. Oh, Obama also lied about his father serving in WWII, while trying to campaign to veterans. The claim was completely untrue.

    October 18, 2012 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  23. jw

    Could you imagine a flipflopper with his hand on the nuke switch.

    October 18, 2012 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  24. Brian stafford

    Bush tried for 6 years after al queda successfully infiltrated USA boarders to crash and burn down two major buildings in NY and our defense headquarters, the pentagon, to get bin Laden but failed. It only took Obama 3 years to track down and kill bin Laden while he was, at the same time, ending Bush/Cheney/Halliburton war in Iraq and cleaning up the housing/wall street mess Bush made. Talk about wiping the republican's ass for him! Obama 2012! For more years! Four more years! Four more years!

    October 18, 2012 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |