In a move that surely infuriated his supporters among Code Pink, President Obama recently decided to use his assassination of Usama bin Laden as a cudgel to beat Mitt Romney. First, there was his controversial attack ad against Romney implying that the latter would have lacked the guts to go after bin Laden. Then, there was his doubling down in a press conference today on the same topic:
Asked about Romney's comment that anyone would have authorized that mission -- "even Jimmy Carter" -- Obama told reporters to "take a look at people's previous statements;" in 2007, Romney criticized Obama for saying he would go into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists.
"I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did," Obama said during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda.
While not citing Romney by name, Obama said: "If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.
The Obama campaign's allegation that Romney is soft on terror centers around one quote Romney made in 2007, saying "It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
If this sounds more like the sort of thing President Obama's last opponent, Arizona Senator John McCain, would have used to beat an opponent, that's because it is. In point of fact, that very same 2007 quote was used by McCain against Romney in a debate during the 2008 Presidential nomination contest. Fox News has the context, as well as Romney's clarification:
Romney's argument was that somebody else would replace bin Laden at the helm of Al Qaeda.
None other than Sen. John McCain, the 2008 GOP nominee who is now defending Romney on the issue, criticized him for the April 2007 statement.
But at an MSNBC debate in May 2007, Romney gave a new explanation.
"Of course we get Usama bin Laden and track him wherever he has to go, and make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America," Romney said.
Asked if that meant moving heaven and earth, Romney said: "We'll move everything to get him. But I don't want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person. ... It's more than Usama bin Laden. But he is going to pay, and he will die."
Here's Fox News' full report on the subject, embedded below:The Democrats are arguing that this is still a flip flop on Romney's part, predictably enough. But is it? Romney's point is solely about the decision to spend money to find bin Laden - it has nothing to do with the decision on whether to kill him. Splitting hairs? Maybe, but on the scale of Republican dovishness, Romney's argument about bin Laden is scarcely the sort of contrarian, anti-assassination stance that Obama could have used against, say, Rep. Ron Paul.