Osama bin Laden is dead and gone, but his demise was trotted out as a campaign issue by President Barack Obama, whose new ad questions whether his Republican rival would have ordered such a risky military raid.
The video features ex-president Bill Clinton hailing Obama for a brave call to take out the Al-Qaeda leader in a Navy SEALs operation one year ago.
Aides to White House challenger Mitt Romney and a top Republican rapped Democrats for politicizing the raid in the run-up to its May 2 anniversary, saying it was “unbecoming” of Obama to reduce the historic moment to a campaign slogan.
Entitled “One Chance,” the ad uses images of Obama and his cabinet in the White House Situation Room, and news footage including quotes from Romney during his 2008 failed presidential bid in which the former Massachusetts governor appeared ambivalent about going after the elusive bin Laden.
Clinton saluted Obama for greenlighting the clandestine raid in Pakistan despite knowing that the consequences would be disastrous if it went wrong.
The operation plunged US-Pakistani ties to an all-time low, but it was seen as a huge strategic and popular success for Obama given the decade-long hunt for the terror mastermind.
The ad’s on-screen text asks: “Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?” and features a screen grab highlighting Romney’s doubts about the merits of searching for bin Laden.
Vice President Joe Biden had seized on the same remarks Thursday in a foreign policy speech.
The White House pushed the narrative even further on Thursday, when Obama gave a US network an extraordinarily rare interview in the Situation Room and discussed the key moments in the dramatic run-up to bin Laden’s demise.
Romney’s campaign argued that while Romney congratulated the president and military on that day last year, a “desperate” Obama was seizing on the achievement to distract voters “from the failures of his administration.”
Romney’s campaign attacked Obama’s “remarkably flailing” reelection bid, saying the president is refusing to run on his record.
So did Senator John McCain, who beat Romney to the Republican nomination in 2008 but lost the election to Obama.
He listed a litany of administration failures, including not supporting the Iranian opposition that was crushed in 2009, attempting to try 9/11 suspects in New York, pulling out of Iraq, and announcing the US departure from Afghanistan.