"You know, we don't trot out this stuff as trophies," President Obama told CBS News soon after terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden had been killed in a U.S. military raid on his hideout in Pakistan. "Americans and people around the world are glad that he's gone. But we don't need to spike the football," Obama added. At the time, Obama cited concerns of inflaming discontent among Muslim extremists in the Middle East.
But compare those words from last year with the Obama campaign's newest ad, which marks the one-year anniversary of bin Laden's death by suggesting that GOP challenger Mitt Romney would not have made a similar decision to smoke out and bring down the al-Qaeda leader. While he hesitated to to offend bin Laden sympathizers, it seems like President Obama now has no issues when it comes to using bin Laden's death to bolster his own reelection campaign. Spike that football, Mr. President:
Having former President Bill Clinton narrate this video was an interesting choice for the Obama camp seeing as how Clinton's anti-terrorism record leaves much to be desired. And despite having honorably pledged not to use the death of bin Laden as a "trophy," Obama's own abysmal record has left his campaign scrambling to find something to "trot out" to woo voters.
Romney is hitting back at the ad's implied accusation today:
“The killing of Osama bin Laden was a momentous day for all Americans and the world, and Governor Romney congratulated the military, our intelligence agencies, and the President. It's now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us, in order to try to distract voters' attention from the failures of his administration. With 23 million Americans struggling for work, our national debt soaring, and household budgets being squeezed like never before, Mitt Romney is focused on strengthening America at home and abroad.”
Update: ABC News' Michael Falcone (via Ed Morrissey) reminds us how the Obama campaign was outraged in 2008 when then-Sen. Hillary Clinton tried to use Osama bin Laden to score political points in this ad:
On the eve of the 2008 Pennsylvania primary, Clinton’s campaign released a television commercial featuring an image of bin Laden and invoking President Harry S. Truman’s quote: “If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen.”
The ad never mentioned Obama by name, but it was part of the Clinton campaign’s effort to brand the Illinois Senator as inexperienced, especially in the foreign policy arena.
“Who do you think has what it takes?” the ad’s narrator says as an image of Clinton flashes on the screen. (The ad showed a brief clip of bin Laden as well as images of Pearl Harbor, the 1920′s stock market crash, Fidel Castro, the fall of the Berlin Wall). “You need to be ready for anything, especially now.”
The Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, accused the Clinton team of playing “the politics of fear” just like George W. Bush.
Burton, now the head of the Democratic super PAC, Priorities USA, said at the time: “When Senator Clinton voted with President Bush to authorize the war in Iraq, she made a tragically bad decision that diverted our military from the terrorists who attacked us, and allowed Osama bin Laden to escape and regenerate his terrorist network. It’s ironic that she would borrow the President’s tactics in her own campaign and invoke bin Laden to score political points. We already have a President who plays the politics of fear, and we don’t need another.["]
In addition, Falcone points out a 2004 quote from Bill Clinton (now Obama's narrator) which the Obama campaign circulated which helped condemn Hillary's ad:
“Now one of Clinton’s Laws of Politics is this: If one candidate’s trying to scare you and the other one’s trying to get you to think; if one candidate’s appealing to your fears and the other one’s appealing to your hopes, you better vote for the person who wants you to think and hope. That’s the best.”