WASHINGTON, D.C. -- President Obama's top political adviser insisted on Sunday that they were not overtly politicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden for purposes of benefiting the re-election campaign.
In an interview with ABC's "This Week," David Axelrod was asked if the president's trip to Afghanistan to mark bin Laden's death, along with a web ad wondering whether Mitt Romney would have made the same call, constituted a spiking of the proverbial ball in the end zone. Axelrod replied with the following:
Well, first of all, the president hasn't been spiking the ball. This was the one-year anniversary. It's part of his record. And it's certainly a legitimate part of his record to talk about. Look, the president in the last campaign said that he would go wherever he had to, to hit high-value Al-Qaeda targets, including Osama bin Laden. One of the first things he did when he got here into the presidency was order the CIA to make this a top priority. That's one of the reasons -- that's the main reason why we were able to be in a position to find bin Laden. And then he ordered a mission that was -- was, frankly, risky, dangerous. Bob Gates said it was one of the most courageous, one of the gutsiest decisions he saw -- he's ever seen a president make. And it turned out successfully. And let me tell you something, Jake. If it hadn't, you'd better believe the other side would be talking about it, and Mitt Romney would be the first one ... So let's set that aside. That's politics, man.
Even Democrats have acknowledged that there is a bit of duplicity here on both sides of the issue. Republicans were quite quick to make politics out of national security issues in the past, (see: George W. Bush's Mission Accomplished moment). And for that, they were criticized by Democrats.
The coin is now flipped. And for those people who were on the receiving end of attacks -- including a large chunk of John Kerry's 2004 presidential campaign -- it's been a welcomed turn of events. The added luxury, as Axelrod notes, is that the attacks in this case are tied to a tangible success.