Republican Sen. John McCain on Friday blasted President Barack Obama for casting doubt on whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, calling it "a cheap political attack." The Obama campaign leveled its attack in a new campaign ad.
"No one disputes that the President deserves credit for ordering the raid, but to politicize it in this way is the height of hypocrisy," McCain said in a verbal broadside emailed to reporters by the Republican National Committee.
"This is the same President who said, after bin Laden was dead, that we shouldn't 'spike the ball' after the touchdown. And now Barack Obama is not only trying to score political points by invoking Osama bin Laden, he is doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected," the senator thundered.
McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, described Obama as a disaster for American national security — notably taking issue with the Democrat's administration for refusing (thus far) to arm Syria's outgunned opposition.
"He watches passively while the Assad regime in Syria, Iran's closest ally, kills thousands of its own people in an unfair fight, and his response to this mass atrocity is to create an 'Atrocities Prevention Board.'
"With a record like that on national security, it is no wonder why President Obama is shamelessly turning the one decision he got right into a pathetic political act of self-congratulation." But McCain himself took issue with the same Romney quote that's now being exploited by the Obama campaign back when the two Republicans were vying for their party's presidential nomination in the 2008 election cycle. McCain told a group of bloggers that the former Massachusetts governor's comment showed "a degree of naiveté" and suggested that Romney thought bin Laden was "not an element in the struggle against radical Islam."
(In fact, Romney was making a relatively popular argument back in 2007 — that the global war on terrorism went far beyond just al-Qaida's leader.)
McCain also aggressively criticized Obama in the 2008 campaign for saying he would order a strike in Pakistan at bin Laden. The two had a testy exchange on the issue at an Oct. 7, 2008 debate.
"Teddy Roosevelt used to say walk softly -- talk softly, but carry a big stick. Senator Obama likes to talk loudly. In fact, he said he wants to announce that he's going to attack Pakistan. Remarkable," McCain said.
"Look, I want to be very clear about what I said. Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan. Senator McCain continues to repeat this. What I said was the same thing that the audience here today heard me say, which is, if Pakistan is unable or unwilling to hunt down bin Laden and take him out, then we should," Obama shot back.
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