Since the ad appeared, Romney, his surrogates, and so-called independent groups like the nouvelle swift-boaters have all rehashed the same dubious line in Romney’s defense: That any American president (or “any thinking American“) would have ordered the bin Laden raid. Just last night on Sean Hannity’s Fox News Channel show, Romney yet again issued this defense:
ROMNEY: But if the president wants to remind people of his decision, well, that’s entirely appropriate. But I think it was a big mistake for the president to try to make in this a political event by suggesting that I would not have done the same thing. I mean, frankly, Sean, almost any American in the position of presidency hearing that Osama bin Laden could have been taken out would have certainly pressed the button and said: get rid of the guy.
HANNITY: Oh, absolutely.
ROMNEY: And of course I would have.
Watch the video:
However, Romney and his allies’ repeated responses to the ad that “any thinking American” would have ordered the raid don’t account for the actual events surrounding Obama’s call.
“There wasn’t any direct evidence that he was there. It was all circumstantial.” — Robert Gates
“The circumstantial case of Iraq having WMD (weapons of mass destruction) was actually stronger than the circumstantial case that bin Laden is living in the Abbottabad compound.” — CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell
“Ultimately, it was a 50/50 proposition as to whether this was actually bin Laden.” — President Obama
In an analogous choice in 2005, George W. Bush and then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld decided not to strike at senior Al Qaeda commanders in Pakistan because of the potential risk to relations with the notoriously sensitive country. When Obama said in his first presidential campaign that he would strike in Pakistan to get bin Laden, McCain criticized him as irresponsible. Romney echoed this concern when he said in August 2007, “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours.”