Elections 2012: President Obama Dings Romney Over Bin Laden Ad Complaints

President Barack Obama defended using the killing of Osama bin Laden in a campaign context on Monday insisting that neither he nor his campaign were engaged in “excessive celebration.”

President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan hold a press conference in the East Room of the White House, April 30, 2012. Photo: Pete Souza/The White House

The Obama campaign’s bin Laden advert, which has stirred a fierce debate, uses a questionable premise to make a political argument that Democrats can be just as tough in dealing with the nation’s enemies as Republicans, tells The Huffington Post.

The ad appears to question Mitt Romney’s courage, calling into question whether he would have given a green light to U.S. Navy SEALs who had located what they thought was Osama bin Laden’s hideout and awaited presidential permission to strike.

Appearing at a press conference with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan, Obam noted that he had simply done what he had pledged to do.

“As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I just recommend that everybody take a look at people’s previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden,” the president said.

“I assume that people meant what they said when they said it. That’s been at least my practice. I said we would go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him. And I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, then I would go ahead and let them explain it,” he said.

President 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, according to CNN.

“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.”

The ad focuses on the heat-of-the-moment pressure for the president. “Nobody can make that decision for you,” former President Bill Clinton says in the ad.

“Look, he knew what would happen. Suppose the Navy SEALs went in there and it hadn’t been bin Laden. Suppose they had been captured or killed.”

“The downside would have been horrible for him … He took the harder and the more honorable path.” The advert then says in white letters on a blue background, “Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?”

Romney himself batted the criticism from the Obama campaign away, treating it as a ridiculous claim. “Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said at a campaign event.

Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded to the criticisms in an e-mailed statement. “It’s unfortunate that President Obama would prefer to use what was a good day for all Americans as a cheap political ploy and an opportunity to distort Governor Romney’s strong policies on the war on terror,” Saul said.

“President Obama’s feckless foreign policy has emboldened our adversaries, weakened our allies, and threatens to break faith with our military. While the Obama administration has naively stated that ‘the war on terror is over,’ Gov. Romney has always understood we need a comprehensive plan to deal with the myriad threats America faces,” she said.

The ad drew a lot of criticism. Arizona Sen. John McCain, Obama’s 2008 opponent, called the minute-long spot “a cheap political attack ad.”

The Huffington Post’s founder Arianna Huffington said on CBS “This Morning” : “There is no way to know whether Romney would’ve been as decisive. And to actually speculate that he wouldn’t be is, to me, not the way to run campaigns on either side.”

Vice President Joe Biden touched the theme in a Thursday campaign-style address.

“If you are looking for a bumper sticker to sum up how President Obama has handled what we inherited, it’s pretty simple: Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive,” he said during a speech at New York University.

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