GOP Hopefuls Take Different Tacks After bin Laden

Wednesday, 11 May 2011 03:32 PM

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The killing of Osama bin Laden has forced Republican White House hopefuls to address Afghanistan and exposed fault lines among the contenders at a moment of improved public sentiment toward President Barack Obama, The Wall Street Journal reports. Whereas Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, and businessman Donald Trump favor military withdrawal, former Sen. Rick Santorum wants the United States to stay until Afghanistan becomes stable.

“The GOP field has also divided over what credit is due Mr. Obama for his handling of the tracking and killing of bin Laden,” the Journal reports. “Some have praised him without caveats . . . Others have been more circumspect.”

Domestically, the GOP critique of Obama centers on an economy still hobbled by persistent unemployment and high gas prices. In foreign policy, Republican candidates have called the president indecisive and too deferential to international organizations.

But the bin Laden raid has boosted Obama’s poll ratings not just on Afghanistan and foreign policy in general but in overall job performance. How long the improved numbers hold is an open question.

"This is more than a blip on the screen," said Randy Scheunemann, a former foreign policy adviser to John McCain and Sarah Palin. "From a strictly political point of view, the killing of bin Laden helps disrupt the narrative of a weak America leading from behind."

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