Mitt Romney and his allies have been attacking President Obama for his campaign’s recent video ad, highlighting both his decision to order the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and Romney’s statement in 2007 that he would not have taken similar action given the chance. Romney now says he would have done the same as Obama. “Of course [I would have]. Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order,” Romney said today.
A reporter asked Obama about the criticism and Romney’s newest statement today during a White House press conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda. While Obama said it’s “entirely appropriate” to “remember what we as a country accomplished” in getting bin Laden, the President advised that people look at what Romney said in 2007 and ask him why he now says something different:
OBAMA: As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I just recommend that everybody take a look at people’s previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden. I assumed that people meant what they said when they said it, that’s been at least my practice. I said that we’d go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggested they’d do something else, then I’d go ahead and let them explain it.
Then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates — a Republican and a holdover from the Bush administration — said last year Obama’s decision to get bin Laden was a “gutsy call,” adding, “This is one of the most courageous calls — decisions — that I think I’ve ever seen a president make.”
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent reports that “by invoking Carter in this fashion, Romney may have effectively undermined his whole argument.”