Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney said Tuesday that he “certainly” would have given the green light to the Navy SEAL operation that led to the death of Osama bin Laden and that it is “inappropriate” for President Obama to politicize the event.
“I think it’s totally appropriate for the president to express to the American people the view that he has — that he had an important role in taking out bin Laden,” Mr. Romney said during a campaign stop outside a fire station in Manhattan with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani. “I think politicizing it and trying to draw a distinction between himself and myself was an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together, which was the elimination of
Osama bin Laden.”
The anniversary has become an early flashpoint in the general election campaign since the Obama campaign released a television ad this week touting the role he played in the death of the mastermind of the Sept. 11 attacks and questioning whether Mr. Romney would have been as willing to pull the trigger on the Navy SEALs operation.
The former Massachusetts governor has since countered that “even Jimmy Carter” would have made the call to eliminate bin Laden, and on Tuesday Mr. Romney drove home a similar message.
“This is a person who had done terrible harm to America and who represented a continued threat to civilized people throughout the world — and had I been president of the United States, I would have made the same decision the president made, which was to remove him,” Mr. Romney told reporters.
Mr. Romney has argued that Mr. Obama is trying to distract voters from what he sees as his poor record on the number of people still out of work, the nation’s fragile economy and mounting national debt.
“These silly kinds of attacks, it’s like, what has that got to do with getting our economy going?” Mr. Romney said Tuesday during an appearance on CBS “This Morning.” “These are important issues people care about. The president’s not talking about them. My campaign is.”
Mr. Obama pushed back Monday against the storyline that he’s playing politics with bin Laden’s death.
“I hardly think you’ve seen any excessive celebration,” Mr. Obama said in a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshi-hiko Noda. “The American people rightly remembered what we as a country accomplished in bring to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 of our citizens. It’s a mark of the effectiveness of intelligence teams, of our military teams — it’s a process that worked.”