NEW YORK – Mitt Romney on Tuesday accused President Obama of politicizing the one-year anniversary of the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, saying “any thinking American would have ordered the exact same thing.”
The presumptive Republican presidential nominee congratulated Obama, the intelligence community and Navy Seals for the successful raid, and said the president “has every right” to take credit. But he lashed out at Obama and his re-election campaign for suggesting that Romney would not have given the same order under the same circumstances.
“Of course I would have. Any thinking American would have ordered the exact same thing,” Romney said in a live interview Tuesday on CBS News’s “This Morning.”
“The idea to try and politicize this, ‘Oh, President Obama would have done it one way, Mitt Romney would have done it another,’ is really disappointing,” Romney added. “Let’s not make the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden a politically divisive event…Let’s not use this as a political football.”
Later, Romney said, “These silly kinds of attacks – it’s like, what does this have to do with getting our economy going again?”
Obama and his campaign have cited Romney’s past statements to suggest he would not have gone as far as Obama to pursue the mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. In 2007, Romney said, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.” Although Romney also has used tough rhetoric in describing the hunt for bin Laden, and immediately following the successful early-morning mission in Pakistan in 2011, Romney congratulated Obama.
Romney’s comments came during a joint interview with his wife, Ann, in which she said the biggest misperception about her husband is that he is “stiff.”
“He’s not. He’s funny,” Ann Romney said, grabbing Mitt’s shoulder and pushing him playfully. Inside, she said, he is still “the boy that I knew” when they began dating in high school.
“There’s a wild and crazy man inside of there just waiting to come out,” Ann Romney said.
Anchor Charlie Rose asked Mitt Romney whether he plans a campaign tour like one his father, George, took in urban America to show that he understands those in poverty. Romney did not say whether he would, but said that one of the highlights of his campaign is sitting down with three or four families almost every day, hidden from the press corps, to talk about what is going on in their lives.
“That’s a wonderful way for me to understand what people are really feeling,” Romney said. “And I’ll tell you, people are hurting right now…I’m in this race because I’m very concerned about the great bulk of America, middle-income America, that’s having a terrible time right now.”