Published April 29, 2012
President Obama's reelection campaign on Sunday stood by its controversial web video which questioned whether Mitt Romney would have approved the Usama bin Laden raid -- as a top Romney adviser accused the president of twisting a unifying moment into a "divisive, partisan, political attack."
That video, released Friday, featured Bill Clinton touting Obama's role in directing the raid that resulted in bin Laden's death last May. But it went a step further, and suggested Romney would not have made the same call.
Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, said Sunday the ad was "fair game."
"I don't think it's clear that (Romney) would," Gibbs said, when asked whether Romney would have green-lighted the mission.
"Usama bin Laden no longer walks on this planet today because of that brave decision (by Obama) and the brave actions by the men and women in our military -- and quite frankly Mitt Romney said it was a foolish thing to do a few years ago," Gibbs said, in an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press."
"Maybe the comments he made a few years ago he admits are wrong, or he's flip-flopped on yet another issue," Gibbs added.
The Obama campaign is referring to a quote from Romney who once said, "it's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."
But Republicans describe the new web video as preposterous.
"I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign," Romney adviser Ed Gillespie said, speaking on the same program as Gibbs.
Gillespie said it's legitimate for Obama to say he's "proud" of the bin Laden raid -- with the one-year anniversary of that raid approaching this week. But Gillespie objected to the implication that Romney would not have made the same decision, calling the move "divisive."
"I can't envision, having served in the White House, any president having been told 'we have him, he's here, you know, should we go in,' saying, 'no we shouldn't'," Gillespie said. "This is an attack on something that might have not happened."
The campaign video was no outlier in the Obama campaign's emerging reelection message.
Vice President Biden, in a speech Thursday, suggested a new bumper sticker read: "Usama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive."
He went on to question Romney's strength as a leader in that context, a day before the campaign released the web video.
"You have to ask yourself, if Gov. Romney had been president, could he have used the same slogan -- in reverse? People are going to make that judgment. It's a legitimate thing to speculate on," Biden said.
Democratic strategist Jehmu Greene told Fox News on Sunday that the question "highlights" what she described as Romney's shortcomings on decisive leadership.
"This proves President Obama does have a lot more weight and carries a lot more weight in this area," she said.
But GOP strategist Nancy Pfotenhauer told Fox News the video "politicizes something that shouldn't have been politicized" and signals how "nasty" the 2012 campaign will become.