"So I was a wee little bit wrong about bin Laden. Doesn't give you the right to say so."
Mitt Romney today
on CBS Morning News:
Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is calling on President Barack Obama to not let the killing of Osama bin Laden become a “politically divisive event.”
Romney says Obama can rightfully take credit for bin Laden’s downfall. But he says it was “very disappointing for the president to try to make this a political item” by suggesting he wouldn’t have ordered the raid, saying, “Of course I would have.” [...]
Romney says, “I think trying to attack me on that basis is inappropriate and the wrong course.”
First of all, the only thing President Obama and his campaign are doing is reminding the public of what Mitt Romney himself said he would do as president. And what Romney said was that he disagreed with
President Obama's strategy to pursue high value targets such as Osama bin Laden into Pakistan without the Pakistani government's approval, saying
"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," Romney told reporters on the campaign trail. [...] Romney, the former Massachusetts governor who is one of the Republican front-runners, said U.S. troops "shouldn't be sent all over the world." He called Obama's comments "ill-timed" and "ill-considered."
So unless Romney didn't mean what he said, he wouldn't have done what President Obama did. Perhaps Mitt Romney has flip-flopped and now believes he was wrong, but as President Obama said yesterday
, the ball is in his court to explain why.
As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I'd just recommend that everybody 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 assume that people meant what they said when they said—that's been at least my practice. I said that I'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 suggest they would do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.
There's nothing divisive about that. That isn't questioning Mitt Romney's patriotism, or using 9/11 as a political club. Nobody is saying that if the U.S. military had bin Laden's compound surrounded and that the only thing they needed was approval to capture or kill bin Laden that Mitt Romney wouldn't have given the thumbs up. Nobody is saying that there's some strange defect in Mitt Romney's character that would cause him to blink in that precise situation
But that's not the scenario we're talking about. We're talking about what actually happened, and what we're saying is that Mitt Romney would not have ordered a politically risky mission to enter Pakistani territory without Pakistani approval in order to get bin Laden, and we're saying that means that Mitt Romney was wrong about how to get bin Laden. That's a legitimate, policy-focused argument, and you can't argue otherwise in good faith.
Oh, and as far as Romney's whining about making this political? Well, he's spending the day campaigning with Rudy "A noun, a verb, and 9/11" Giuliani. Need I say more?