Proving that nothing is sacrosanct from partisan politics these days, the Obama and Romney campaigns are feuding over the first anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Specifically, President Obama’s team is raising doubts that the former Massachusetts governor would have acted to take out the al-Qaeda leader.
In an e-mail to reporters, Priorities USA, the outside SuperPAC allied supporting the president, points to Romney’s criticism of a speech that then-candidate Obama made in August, 2007, in which he said: “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”
At the time, Romney, who was running for the 2008 GOP nomination, said of Obama: “I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours... I don’t think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort.”
But Romney was not the only one arguing that the Illinois senator’s words were ill-chosen. One of his Democratic rivals--none other than the man Obama would ultimately choose as his running mate--called the statement “naive.”
Biden, who was then the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had this to say on National Public Radio’s “Diane Rehm Show”:
“In order to look tough, he’s undermined his ability to be tough, were he President. Because if you’re going to go into Pakistan — which is already our policy by the way, if there’s actionable intelligence– you need actionable intelligence from moderates within Pakistan working with you. Now if you’re already going to say ‘I’m going to disregard whatever the country thinks and going to invade,’ the likelihood you’re getting the cooperation you need evaporates. It’s a well intended notion he has, but it’s a very naïve way of figuring out how you’re going to conduct foreign policy.”
Of course, Biden has also been very candid about how he felt about the decision to take out bin Laden when it finally came to pass. As the vice president recalled it, he told Obama: “Mister President, my suggestion is don’t go. We have to do two more things to see if he’s there. He walked out and said, ‘I’ll give you my decision.’”
Indeed, Biden has become one of the most effusive admirers of Obama’s decision-making. And “naive” is one word you are never likely to hear him say again about the commander-in-chief.