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Osama bin Laden’s death: 2012 contenders’ react

at 10:46 AM ET, 05/02/2011


People cheer and wave U.S. flags outside the White House as President Barack Obama delivers remarks to the nation on the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden, in Washington May 1, 2011. (JIM YOUNG - REUTERS)
In his brief speech announcing the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden last night, President Obama called for the renewal of non-partisanship that followed the September 11th attacks.

Given that, Republican presidential contenders have to be careful in their responses to the massive news not to appear to violate that sense of unity. It will be difficult for them to criticize the president on any subject in the near term — making the scheduled Fox News Channel debate this Thursday an iffy proposition — but particularly on foreign policy.

In the reactions from the 2012 field thus far, it’s notable that not everyone makes mention of President Obama.

While former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, and businessman Donald Trump explicitly praise the president for his role, others celebrate bin Laden’s death and credit the military operation without mentioning their possible future rival. Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee’s statement has perhaps the most memorable line: “Welcome to hell, bin Laden.”

Full statements are below. We’ll add to this list as more statements come in. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels has, at least for the moment, declined to comment.

Mitt Romney: "This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere. Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president. My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist."

Jon Huntsman: "Our success in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice is a tribute to our entire intelligence and military infrastructure. I applaud the President's handling of the mission.

In Utah, the hardest part of my job was presiding over the funerals of our brave National Guard soldiers. This is a reminder that the lives that have been lost fighting the War on Terror were not lost in vain. We are so grateful for their sacrifice and for the service of all our young men and women in the armed forces."

Tim Pawlenty: “This is terrific news for freedom and justice. In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America’s armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered. America will never shrink from the fight and ultimately those who seek to harm us face only defeat. Today, justice is done, but the fight against radical Islamic terrorism is not yet over.”

Mike Huckabee: "It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden is dead. The leader of Al Qaeda--- responsible for the deaths of 3000 innocent citizens on September 11, 2001, and whose maniacal hate is responsible for the deaths of thousands of US servicemen and women was killed by U.S. military. President Obama confirmed the announcement late last night. DNA tests confirmed his death and his body is in the possession of the U. S.

It has taken a long time for this monster to be brought to justice. Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will berelentless in tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens.”

Newt Gingrich: The killing of Osama bin Laden is a significant victory in the long struggle between radical Islamists and modern civilization.

This victory is a tribute to the patient endurance of American justice. I commend both President George W. Bush who led the campaign against our enemies through seven long years and President Obama who continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

We should remember to thank those who made this possible. Without the courage and professionalism of our men and women in uniform and in the intelligence services, this victory would not have been achieved.  

This victory is only a milestone in a long war. We must also recognize the long struggle ahead. Radical Islamism did not start with bin Laden and it will not end with his death. This is the 32nd year since the Iranian dictatorship seized our diplomats illegally and held them hostage for 444 days. It has been 28 years since Iranian-supported terrorists killed 241 servicemen in Beirut in 1983.

As long as there are schools teaching children to hate; as long as there are state-supported terrorist systems; as long as several countries actively recruit children to be suicide bombers; this war will continue.  

The world is a better place without Osama bin Laden, but his just demise cannot erase the loss and suffering of the families and friends of those who died on September 11 or died fighting in the war since September 11. So while we are celebrating this victory, we should take time to remember and pray for them.

Michele Bachmann: “Tonight’s news does not bring back the lives of the thousands of innocent people who were killed that day by Osama bin Laden’s horrific plan, and it does not end the threat posed by terrorists, but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism.”

Rick Santorum: "This is extraordinary news for all freedom-loving people of the world, and I commend all those involved for this historic triumph. Americans have waited nearly ten years for the news of Osama bin Laden's death. And while this is a very significant objective that cannot be minimized, the threat from Jihadism does not die with bin Laden. As we were vigilant in taking him out, we need to demonstrate we will continue to be vigilant until the enemy hasbeen subdued."

Sarah Palin: “Americans tonight are united in celebration and gratitude. God bless all the brave men and women in our military and our intelligence services who contributed to carrying out the successful mission to bring Bin Laden to justice and who laid the groundwork over the years to make this victory possible. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication of these brave Americans who relentlessly hunted down our enemy. 

 This is a victory for the American people, for the victims who were heartlessly murdered on September 11 and in Al Qaeda’s other numerous attacks, and for all the peace-loving people of the world.

May God bless our troops and our intelligence services, and God bless America!”

Donald Trump: “I want to personally congratulate President Obama and the men and women of the Armed Forces. I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory,” he added. “We should spend the next several days not debating party politics, but in remembrance of those who lost their lives on 9/11 and those currently fighting for our freedom. God Bless America!”

Buddy Roemer: "This is a great day for Americans who have longed for justice from the ruthless attacks of September 11, 2001.

I congratulate and thank the U.S. Military and intelligence communities for their stalwart actions in remaining vigilant in tracking and, ultimately killing Osama bin Laden.  This is a victory for the men and women who have spent countless hours working in the War on Terror.

I am grateful to former President George W. Bush, who demanded that justice be meted out for every victim of the attacks on our country.

I also congratulate President Obama, who allowed the search for justice to succeed, in spite of his opposition to funding the war  while a voting member of the US Senate.

We must continue to remain focused on fighting the war and protecting the freedom of Americans."

Gary Johnson: “Along with the rest of the country, I commend our military forces and intelligence community for their amazing skill and courage in obtaining a measure of justice for all those who lost loved ones on 9/11, and for our entire nation.  

Terrorism did not die yesterday, but it suffered a serious blow -- and a strong message was sent.”

 
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