Obama and Romney Terrorize Politics

National Journal

President Obama could always count on the killing of Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden, who died one year ago today, to bolster the argument he deserves reelection. But as he and his political allies have demonstrated this past week, they aren’t content to use the terrorist’s death only to build up Obama—they want to use it to tear down Mitt Romney.

Obama’s campaign has transformed bin Laden from an implicit highlight of the president’s own record into a political cudgel used to clobber his Republican opponent. Three of the country’s most prominent Democrats—Vice President Joe Biden, former President Clinton, and Obama himself—have questioned whether Romney would have the courage to send special forces into Pakistan to hunt down bin Laden.

Even in an election that hinges on the economy, the charge is a land mine for Romney should it stick with the public. In effect, Obama is arguing the nation would have been robbed of one its great moments of triumph if Romney had been president—a potentially crippling blow against a man trying to prove he has the chops to be commander-in-chief. But making bin Laden’s death a more overt issue on the campaign trail also poses significant risk for Obama, who is now vulnerable to criticism he’s showing poor taste for dragging a transcendent accomplishment down into the mud of partisan politics.

Rather than rise above the fray and let his actions speak for themselves, Obama is intent on preserving the direct contrast between his record and what he says Romney would, or in this case wouldn’t, have done. In other words, the president is keeping the pressure on his rival.

For its part, the Romney campaign has reason to fret about its candidate’s foreign-policy credentials in the eyes of the public. A mid-April poll from CNN reported that when voters were asked which candidate could better handle the responsibilities as commander-in-chief, 52 percent picked Obama. Just 36 percent picked Romney. Read more

—Alex Roarty

NATIONAL JOURNAL’S PRIMARY REPORT

Political Boost From Bin Laden Not Clear NEW!
[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.

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.

Romney: Politicizing Bin Laden’s Death is ‘Very Disappointing' 
[National Journal, 5/1/12] Romney defended himself early Tuesday from the dispute over whether he would have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden. During the same interview, Ann defended her husband’s personal side: “There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out.”

Obama Approval Rating Up in April NEW!
[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 NEW!
[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 NEW!
[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.

Obama Campaign Puts Bo On the Trail 
[Washington Post, 4/30/12] The "war on dogs," characterized by controversy swirling around Romney's dog Seamus and Obama's admittance to eating dog as a child, means the Obama campaign has brought out an unlikely surrogate for the president: Bo Obama, the family's Portuguese Water Dog.

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.

Romney to Skip Texas GOP Convention
[Houston Chronicle, 4/30/12] Being the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, one would think that it would be Romney addressing the Texas Republican Party at the state’s convention on June 8. But it seems that the featured speaker will be none other than former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who suspended his campaign weeks ago.

Asian Americans: 2012's Stealth Swing Vote? NEW!
[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.

Ron Paul Looks to Slow Down Romney in Texas and California
[Sunshine State News, 5/1/12] Sitting with his 80 delegates, according to the latest tally by the Associated Press, Ron Paul is still fighting to keep his political career alive in Texas and California. Although polls show Paul down in both the Lone Star State—his home—and in the Sunshine State to Romney, he’s still getting big crowds at rallies statewide.

 

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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. 

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