The killing of Osama bin Laden was a “unifying event” for Americans and not something to be turned into a “desperate” presidential campaign issue by Barack Obama, says Mitt Romney’s senior adviser, Ed Gillespie.
And the suggestion that Romney might not have made the same decision to send Navy SEALs into Pakistan to carry out the mission is “a bridge too far,” Gillespie told NBC’s David Gregory on Meet the Press.
“This is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history,” Gillespie said on Sunday.
“He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans, an event that Gov. Romney congratulated him and the military and the intelligence analysts in our government for completing ... and he's managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan, political attack,” said Gillespie, a former White House counselor to President George W. Bush.
Gillespie pointed out that former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci had called the campaign use of the raid “sad,” while former presidential candidate John McCain said it was “shameful.”
“Most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign,” he said.
Obama has taken credit for giving the order to kill bin Laden one year ago this week. Last Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden in a speech in New York put the raid front and center in the campaign. “Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive. You have to ask yourself, if Governor Romney had been President, could he have used the same slogan — in reverse?”
Obama himself, in an unprecedented move, allowed NBC access to the White House Situation Room for an interview to mark the anniversary.
“It's the attack that Governor Romney wouldn't have done it,” that is so wrong, said Gillespie. “I can't envision, having served in the White House, any president having been told, ‘We have him. He's here. Should we go in?’ saying, ‘No, we shouldn't.’ "
Gillespie said there is a difference between the use of bin Laden’s killing and President George W. Bush using 9/11 images during his 2004 re-election bid because that was showing how Bush reacted, not how his rival John Kerry might have reacted. “Had [Obama] said, ‘I'm proud of this,’ people would have said he should be proud of this. We're proud as a country that this happened.
“It's the extra iteration. It's the attack that Gov. Romney wouldn't have done it.”
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