Allege that he’s too political in claiming credit for the death of the terror mastermind of the millennium, too eager to manipulate the national victory for electoral gain?
Here’s President Obama’s answer: hopping in Air Force One and flying about as far away from the Rose Garden as he could get, landing in the middle of night, to stand on Afghan soil and amplify those claims even further. The strategic agreement Obama signed with Afghan President Hamid Karzai firms up the American commitment to mending Afghanistan after U.S. troops leave the country, scheduled for late 2014.
Of course, Obama’s trip was long in the works and backing down in the face of political criticism would have been unthinkable. But, under lengthy development, too, was the GOP's criticism of Obama’s initial bin Laden boasting.
It’s evidence of how hard it is to beat a White House on solid, if ultimately unresolved, claims on national security victories. Ask George W. Bush, whose war mismanagement was overwhelmed in voters’ minds by his record in keeping the homeland safe, and the argument that he would be better at it than the other guy.
But that was a different election, and Obama's nods in his speech from Bagram Air Base to economic challenges back home acknowledged that butter can still outweigh guns.
-- Jim O’Sullivan
NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT
Obama Calls for Commitment to Afghanistan on Bin Laden Kill Anniversary
[National Journal, 5/1/12] During the speech in Kabul, Obama struck a political note, listing security missteps during the previous administration and saying that he had changed the course of the mission when he became president.
Obama Speech Certain to Frustrate Republicans
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Every action Obama takes at this point -- 189 days before Election Day -- could be seen as political, and his speech tonight was decidedly so. An attempt to put Republican critics on the defensive, Obama's speech tonight reminded Americans of one of his greatest achievements of the past three years.
Richard Grenell, Mitt Romney Spokesman, Resigns
[Washington Post, 5/1/12] Richard Grenell, the openly gay foreign policy spokesman for Mitt Romney's campaign, resigned today, citing the “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues" that dogged him during his short time with the campaign. The news, first reported by conservative Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, broke as much of the news spectrum was consumed with Obama's Afghan trip.
Political Boost From Bin Laden Not Clear
[National Journal, 5/1/12] National Journal’s George Condon writes that Obama is no different from any of his predecessors in his political use of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Condon examines Harry Truman in 1948, George H. W. Bush in 1992, and George W. Bush in 2004. The Daily Beast's Michelle Cottle also weighs in.
Attack Ads Make Early Entry
[Wall Street Journal, 5/1/12] With the "Swiss Bank Account" ad the Obama campaign released today, yet another attack has entered the general election race -- but it's not the first, and it won't be the last of the season.
Long Memory and Short Fuse; The Roots of Obama's bin Laden Anniversary
[National Journal, 5/1/12] As Major Garrett writes, Obama remembers how his Republican opponents slammed him in 2008 for his inexperience with foreign policy, and part of his strategy in marking the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death is to remind those critics of what he's capable of.
Romney, Near Ground Zero, Faults Obama for Politicizing Raid
[New York Times, 5/1/12] Romney appeared today at a firehouse in downtown Manhattan to slam Obama for his "inappropriate use" of bin Laden's death, and to reiterate that he would've made the same decision as Obama if given the choice. The appearance came before news broke of Obama’s Afghan trip.
Romney Super PAC Going Up With First General-Election Ads
[NBC News, 5/1/12] The pro-Romney super PAC Restore Our Future has a $3.7 million ad buy across nine states, beginning Thursday: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, North Carolina, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, and New Hampshire.
New ‘Swiss Bank Account’ Obama Ad Slams Romney
[National Journal, 5/1/12] The Obama campaign released a new ad on Tuesday that slams Romney for having a Swiss bank account, among other things, while working as a corporate executive. The ad, entitled “Swiss Bank Account,” will air in Ohio, Iowa, and Virginia.
Obama Approval Rating Up in April
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Obama’s approval rating rose by one point in April to 47 percent, the highest average approval rating since last May and the death of Osama bin Laden, according to new data by Gallup.
Gingrich Will End Race in Arlington at 3 p.m. on Wednesday
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Newt Gingrich thanked supporters on his campaign website on Tuesday with details of where (the Hilton in Arlington) and when (3 p.m. Wednesday) he will officially suspend his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination.
Rubio Says GOP Credit Card Use 'Looked Bad,'
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a man who is likely on the short-list of possible vice presidential candidates, said on Monday that he regretted using a Republican Party credit card for personal expenses when he was speaker of the Florida House, but also said that he paid the expenses out of his own pocket at the end of every month if they were not party-related.
GOP Insiders Back Portman For VP
[Wall Street Journal, 4/30/12] Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio is a top prospect for selection as Romney’s running mate – and a stark contrast with the Sarah Palin of 2008. The fact that Portman has emerged as a favorite of party elders and GOP insiders speaks volumes about the mood of the party establishment.
Romney, Michael Bloomberg Meet
[National Journal, 5/1/12] New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Romney met on Tuesday at the headquarters of the mayor’s philanthropic foundation in Manhattan’s Upper East Side to discuss Bloomberg’s legislative priorities. This was the first meeting between the two men. Days earlier, Bloomberg spoke to both Vice President Joe Biden and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.
Romney Striving to Win Over the Right
[Boston Globe, 5/1/12] Even as Romney begins courting moderate and independent voters who could determine the outcome in November, his campaign is still working behind the scenes to shore up support from conservatives who have yet to fully embrace him.
Bob McDonnell to Campaign with Mitt Romney in Virginia This Week
[Yahoo! News, 5/1/12] Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, the chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association and a possible vice presidential candidate, will campaign with Romney on Thursday in Virginia. McDonnell went after the president on his energy record in a Tuesday Wall Street Journal op-ed. On Monday, Romney appeared with another potential veepster, New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Asian Americans: 2012's Stealth Swing Vote?
[The Atlantic, 5/1/12] A less talked about demographic might be up for grabs in this year’s general election. Although Asian Americans are more likely to vote for the president—leading by 46 percent over Romney in a new poll—The Atlantic’s Molly Ball says that this group has been often overlooked, and worth keeping an eye out for this fast growing demographic.