Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said he would “of course” have given the order to kill Osama bin Laden, as President Barack Obama did a year ago.
Romney, pushing back against an advertisement by Obama’s re-election campaign that suggests he wouldn’t have taken the action in Pakistan against bin Laden, said “even Jimmy Carter” would have approved the U.S. raid that killed the al-Qaeda leader.
Carter, the former president, is criticized routinely by Republicans as a weak leader during his White House tenure. He approved a military mission in 1980 to rescue U.S. hostages in Iran, which failed. He also was a vocal opponent of the 2003 Iraq war ordered by President George W. Bush.
Romney, 65, the former governor of Massachusetts, was asked by reporters about the bin Laden operation following a campaign event in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Clinton in Ad
Obama’s campaign released an ad April 27 that features former President Bill Clinton calling Obama courageous for ordering the bin Laden raid, and questions whether Romney would have made the same call. It notes that during his first presidential run, he said in an April 2007 interview that “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”
The ad doesn’t tell viewers that Romney later said at a candidate debate in May 2007 that he “of course” would track bin Laden and “make sure he pays for the outrage he exacted upon America.”
“I don’t want to buy into the Democratic pitch that this is all about one person,” he added. “It’s more than Osama bin Laden, but he is going to pay, and he will die.”
Asked at a White House press conference today about the raid issue, Obama said, “I’d 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.”
Without mentioning Romney, Obama also 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.”
Obama denied that he and his administration are celebrating the anniversary of bin Laden’s killing, saying Americans “rightly remember” what the nation accomplished with his death.
Romney’s comments today came after he toured and spoke at a fish pier with Senator Kelly Ayotte, a New Hampshire Republican and potential running mate. It was the second time in as many weeks Romney has auditioned a prospective vice presidential pick; he appeared outside Philadelphia with Florida Senator Marco Rubio on April 23.
Ayotte brushed aside talk of her joining Romney’s ticket. Still, she didn’t rule out doing so.
“The governor will do a thorough vetting process and pick who he thinks is best, and I just want to do whatever I can to make sure that he gets elected president of the United States, to turn this country around,” Ayotte, a first-term senator, told reporters as Romney greeted voters after their event.
Asked whether she would allow herself to be vetted by Romney’s campaign, Ayotte said: “I just don’t see that happening.”
At the pier, the two boarded three boats to hear complaints from commercial fishermen about how federal regulations are hurting their business.