Romney Says “Even Jimmy Carter” Would Have Ordered Bin Laden Operation: Obama Responds

This has been quite a week for the Romney campaign and while it will bring cheers from Fox News and Rush Limbaugh fans, how will it play with independent voters? Probably not well: (1) A Romney aide (despite Romney’s Nov. 2008 New York Times op ed titled Let Detroit Go Bankrupt) insisted that Romney really gave Barack Obama the idea for saving the auto industry (2)GOPers were seemingly pressing the line that Obama was actually too cool to be President (3) Republicans were insisting more than ever that Obama deserved much credit for ordering the attack on Osama bin Laden that led to the terrorist chief’s being killed a year go and was playing politics with it (forgetting this moment and other Bush administration instances of playing politics with the terrorism and 911 issue.)

And today it moved into high gear with Romney making another unscripted comment that in the end seemed to leave him looking defensive and in change-a-position Etch a Sketch mode:

President Barack Obama on Monday appeared to call out Mitt Romney over what he said about going after Osama bin Laden on the campaign trail four years ago, as opposed to on the eve of the first anniversary of the raid that killed the terrorist leader.

Asked about Romney’s comments earlier in the day that the decision to go after bin Laden was a clear one and that “even Jimmy Carter would” have made the call, Obama referred to a difference between what Romney said during his 2008 presidential campaign and on the eve of the first anniversary of the attack.

“I assume that people meant what they said when they said it,” Obama said during a joint appearance with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. “That’s been at least my practice. I said that I’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who said one thing and now suggest they’d do something else, I’d go ahead and let them explain.”

Obama also appeared to take exception with a reporter’s question that suggested there was excessive celebration around the anniversary of the al Qaeda leader’s death, repeating a charge that Republicans have made.

I hardly think that you’ve seen any excessive celebration taking place,” Obama said. “I think that the American people likely remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 of our citizens.”

Here’s Romney’s comment:


And here is Obama’s reaction:
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Will the Romney/GOP line play with independent voters? I suspect not.

Obama & Co’s touting his decision in campaign ads comes across as politics – the same kind of politicization that the GOP did over 911 and terrorism when George W. Bush was in office.

The GOP’s attack line is coming across as — sour grapes.

It’s worth noting that Team Obama has come under fire from at least one ally for its ad touting bin Laden’s assassination: Huffington Post megachief Arianna Huffington labeled the ad “despicable.”

If you balance these two reactions the net result is: more emphasis in the public consciousness due to its prominence in the news cycle that Barack Obama issued the order to get Osama bin Laden while Romney’s earlier position indicated that if faced with the same basic set of circumstances Romney would likely have balked.

Writes blogger Charles Johnson:

Classy! So the Republican position on the operation that took out Osama bin Laden is that it was no big deal? Good luck with that one.

TPM has this must read on The Five Stages of GOP Reaction to bin Laden’s Death and What Comes Next

You can follow blog reaction to this campaign exchange and story HERE.

The copyrighted cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune, is licensed to run on TMV. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

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  • cjjack

    “Will the Romney/GOP line play with independent voters? I suspect not.”

    My first reaction is to question whether the GOP is even interested in independent voters anymore. They’ve spent the past year tripping over each other in the race to be the rightest of the right wing.

    Then I think, maybe they’re of the opinion that they can send out completely different messages with impunity, so long as they send them to different groups of people…as if the independent voters who thought the auto bailout was a good idea simply didn’t hear Mitt saying it was a bad idea, because he was talking to “the base” at the time.

    Finally, I think – deep in the cynical part of my political heart – that the best thing the Obama camp could do is to trot out the “he was for it before he was against it” tactic that was employed to such effect against Kerry in 2004.

    So far, Romney was for abortion before he was against abortion, for a health care mandate before he was against it, and now (in the same week!) was for the auto bailout before he was against it and is now for it again, and was always for killing Bin Laden except when he was against it.

    All that’s left is to find a picture of him wind surfing off Martha’s Vineyard.

  • http://www.americaincontext.com Barky

    Carter ordered an attempt to rescue the Iranian hostages in 1979. That was a far bolder move than the OBL attack because there was “no clear shot”. That attempt failed of course, but it showed tremendous cajones anyway.

    Romney should know that. He is beginning to sound like Bush the Lesser every day.

  • The_Ohioan

    My first reaction was like Arianna’s – if it was despicable when Bush and Guilianni did it, it’s still despicable no matter who does it.

    My main objection was the implication that Romney wouldn’t have done it – I thought it was a low blow like the right wing swiftboaters did to Kerry.

    Of course, I didn’t know then that in the 2008 election, Romney had stated he wouldn’t do it and Obama was foolish for saying he would do it given the right circumstances.

    I still think sabre rattling for election purposes is out of bounds for any politician – and it’s been out of bounds for the Republicans for years, though that’s not stopped them – but it’s not likely to stop anyone now.

    Obama says everyone should be taken at their word so he can’t complain if anyone complains when he fails to follow through on his promises. The election will be decided on who the people trust most; and, unfortunately, how much is spent lying about who did what.

  • zephyr

    The cartoon says it all. There is the talk… and there is the walk. I don’t appreciate the cheap shot at Jimmy Carter either. Romney hasn’t done anything to demonstrate his right to make such a comment.

  • DaGoat

    Obama should be justifiably proud of ordering the killing of Bin Laden, and it’s fine for him to use that in his campaign ads. It was also fine for Bush to be proud of the way he handled the immediate aftermath of 9/11. It was one of the few times his leadership really shined, and it was fair game for his campaign ads. Both Obama and Bush are/were criticized for politicizing the events, but candidates have a right to trumpet their accomplishments.

    The trouble with Obama’s claiming that Romney would not have pulls the trigger on Bin Laden is it doesn’t pass the smell test. I am not worried that Romney won’t be aggressive enough dealing with terrorists, rather the opposite. Obama has not hesitated to use military force but if anything a GOP president will be even more likely to do so, something that worries me about Romney.

    Romney is likely right almost any other president would likely have done the same thing ordering the raid on Bin Laden. IIRC Valerie Jarrett counseled against going forward with the raid but almost everyone else supported it. Any president in recent memory would have made the same decision and even some non-presidents like Kerry and Gore, not to mention most of the contributors and commenters on this website.

  • slamfu

    I think its just funny that the GOP is basically been trumpeting that Obama didn’t get anything done his 1st term, and then when it comes to this particular issue which is a clear cut accomplishment, they pretty much just don’t want him to bring it up. Its pretty childish and a case of wishful thinking. Then to claim Obama is making a big deal out of it is also kinda funny. Its not like he flew onto an aircraft carrier with a big banner or anything. Thanks GOP, this is going to be a humorous election.

  • StockBoyLA

    Yes presidents (and other elected do have a right to showcase their accomplishments. Especially for re-election campaigns we need to know what our elected officials have accomplished.

    The difference between Obama and Bush 43 is that Obama completed and celebrated the mission of hunting down and killing bin Laden.

    Whereas W. claimed mission accomplished when there was no mission accomplished. W. took credit where no credit was due. Obama took credit where it was due.

    While I too supported Bush’s response sin the aftermath of 9/11 and thought it was appropriate to go into Afghanistan and hunt down our enemies, those right actions and the right mission was soon put aside, bin Laden was deemed irrelevant and Bush unnecessarily invaded Iraq on trumped up charges and lies.

    Much of America supported Bush’s war in Afghanistan because we knew it was right. However when it came to his war mongering in Iraq millions of Americans took to the streets and protested. We knew it was the wrong war for the wrong reasons and we knew that W. was lying to us.

    It doesn’t take any brains or courage to invade a country to oust a regime that harbors and supports terrorists who attack us. It does take patience, organization and will to see the fight through. None of these things W. had.

    So yes, I give credit to Bush for invading Afghanistan. Up until then I couldn’t stand him. But after the 9/11 attacks we as a nation were frightened. Once Bush identified bin Laden and invaded Afghanistan I was very proud of my country and feeling very good about W, in spite of my previous contempt for the man. But everything Bush did after that… from turning the attention away from our number one enemy bin Laden… and invading Iraq, to keep pushing for tax cuts, to his culture wars and encouraging states to pass constitutional bans on same-sex marriage for his own political gain, to the PATRIOT Act, etc…. were all betrayals. And his policies led us to the worst economic slump since the Great Depression and even today Republicans push these failed policies and block Obama’s attempt to do things differently.

    With bin Laden Bush had a chance to be a great president and he could have been had he worked for the interests of the American people. But he let his greed and own poverty of morals guide him, leading this country to near ruin, politically, economically, socially and fighting multiple wars that he didn’t know how to win or get out of…. for political reasons.

  • The_Ohioan

    slamfu

    “Its not like he flew onto an aircraft carrier with a big banner or anything.”

    Apparently he’s flown to Afghanistan and is going to address the nation tonight. Bigger? Better? Bummer?

    Now we get the edit, when I got everything right for once! Good job guys. Thanks.

  • slamfu

    Apparently Obama is flying there to sign a deal related to the pullout with Karzai. And among other differences the White House has denied he is going there, its been kept a secret instead of a preplanned media event, and we don’t know if there is a big celebration banner because there isn’t a horde of reporters lined up to greet him when he landed.

    And StockBoy, I have to say at the time when Bush did do the whole “Mission Accomplished” there was cause to celebrate. Our soldiers had crushed Saddam’s army, he was in hiding, and we had control of Iraq. That is no small feet, despite the fact our guys made it look easy. While the issue was far from a happy resolution, the first phase of the Gulf war, destroying Saddam’s army and occupying the nation, were done. In that sense, a mission was most certainly accomplished and I don’t think taking a bow of sorts was totally unjustified.

  • Rcoutme

    Several points made above are quite poignant.

    1) Carter ordered the attempt to free the hostages. Thus, the claim that, “…even Jimmy Carter would have ordered it,” is lacking in historical reference, due to the word, “even.” Carter ordered a strike where Reagan did not. Reagan sold TOW missiles to the Iranians instead–and still didn’t get all the hostages.

    2) Bush wrapped himself around the flag concerning 9/11 when that was a fiasco similar to Pearl Harbor. I will bet that FDR did not use the Japanese attack as a campaign slogan. He might have used our response, but their attack? Doubtful.

    3) I wanted Bush Jr. to go after Afghanistan. I deplored his actions at the time because he was the first president in the entire history of the United States to ask for war powers and a tax cut at the same time.

    4) Bush, when asked, had said that he really didn’t care where Bin Laden was (assuming that he was neutralized). Later in the debates he denied saying this!

    5) The Republican Party has NO STANDING when it comes to my opinion on their willingness to secure our borders and protect our people.