Obama ad sparks Republican backlash over Osama Bin Laden


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY

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Posted on April 30, 2012 at 6:01 PM

Updated Monday, Apr 30 at 6:43 PM

AUSTIN -- The latest ad by the Obama campaign features former president Bill Clinton praising the current president for the decision to take out Osama Bin Laden.

"He took the harder and the more honorable path, and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result," said Clinton in the ad entitled "One Chance."

The ad then asks, "Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" The ad proceeds to rehash remarks made in 2008 by Romney suggesting "it's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

Republicans immediately accused the president of using a moment of national "unity" for political gain.

"This is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history," said Romney adviser Ed Gillespie argued Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Quite frankly Mitt Romney said it was a foolish thing to do a few years ago," Obama adviser and former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs fired back.

"It would be unusual for a president in this case to not say what they've done, especially if it's something that's going to resonate with a large amount of the American public. So this is not exactly surprising," said University of Texas Professor of Public Affairs and documentary filmmaker Paul Stekler, nor is it new.

Stekler points out ads such as 2004's "Ashley's Story" for President George W. Bush, which featured the daughter of a victim of the September 11th attacks. "He's the most powerful man in the world, and all he wants to do is make sure I'm safe," says a young Ashley Faulkner in the ad.

"The flip side of that is that John Kerry wouldn't," suggested Stekler. "It worked in 2004. Everybody came together after 9/11, but if you take a look at Republican ads for the off-year election in 2002, they were all about the Republicans being tough on our adversaries and the Democrats being weak."

Presidential campaign ads can go too far, with perhaps the best example being President Lyndon Baines Johnson's 1964 "Daisy" ad that was swiftly canned. 

While the president's re-election campaign clearly intends to make the administration's handling of Osama Bin Laden a key strength, it's ultimately hard to predict what will be the driving issue come voting time in November.

"This is the sort of overall way to look at the campaign -- the easy summary," said Stekler. "This is all going to be tempered by what happens in the world."

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