Palin hails bin Laden's death - but keeps distance from praising Obama

During a military and veterans appreciation rally and charity benefit in Lakewood, Colo., Sarah Palin expressed her relief at the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, yet neglected to name President Obama. CBS

Sarah Palin hailed the death of Osama bin Laden on Monday night, but shied away from overtly praising President Obama by name for his role in the operation that killed the long-hunted al Qaeda leader.

In a speech honoring American troops at a fundraiser in Lakewood, Colorado, the former Alaska governor lauded the military, and explicitly thanked former President George W. Bush for his role in bringing bin Laden to his demise. And while she thanked "the president" in passing, she declined to mention Mr. Obama by name.

"Yesterday was a testament to the military's dedication in relentlessly hunting down the enemy during many years of war," Palin said in her remarks. "We want to thank our president," Palin said, adding, "We thank President Bush for having made the right calls to set up this victory."

"Bless all the brave men and women in our military, and our intelligence services, who carried out the successful mission to bring Osama bin Laden to justice," she continued. "And all those who had laid the groundwork over the years to make that victory possible. This historic action that was announced that night, it was the result of the diligence and the hard work and the char of countless American warriors."

Palin, who made the remarks in a speech to outline a general foreign policy agenda, also questioned whether or not some Pakistani leaders may or may not have had knowledge of bin Laden's location.

"He was killed in an affluent city outside Islamabad. It wasn't in a dark cave in some remote mountains," Palin said. Noting that "many retired Pakistani military officers live in the area" nearby, she wondered, "How was the most wanted man in the world able to live in relative comfort out in the open?"

"Perhaps some of the Pakistani leaders were helping him," she said.

As for the other potential presidential contenders, Palin was not the only one to avoid lavish praise on President Obama in their statements and appearances after the announcement. Some failed to reference the current president at all in their remarks.

Rep. Michele Bachmann, of Minnesota, thanked the military and intelligence communities before warning of the threat of "Sharia-compliant terrorism."

"I want to express my deepest gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. military and intelligence community. Their persistence and dedicated service has yielded success in a mission that has gripped our nation since the terrible events of 9/11," following up a Sunday night Tweet with a statement. "Tonight's news does not bring back the lives of the thousands of innocent people who were killed that day by Osama bin Laden's horrific plan, and it does not end the threat posed by terrorists, but it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end of Sharia-compliant terrorism."

Former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, on the other hand, vaguely commended "all those involved" for the triumph.

"This is extraordinary news for all freedom loving people of the world, and I commend all those involved for this historic triumph," he said. "Americans have waited nearly ten years for the news of Osama bin Laden's death. And while this is a very significant objective that cannot be minimized, the threat from Jihadism does not die with bin Laden. As we were vigilant in taking him out we need to demonstrate we will continue to be vigilant until the enemy has been subdued."

"It is unusual to celebrate a death, but today Americans and decent people the world over cheer the news that madman, murderer and terrorist Osama Bin Laden is dead," added Mike Huckabee, in his reaction. "Welcome to hell, bin Laden. Let us all hope that his demise will serve notice to Islamic radicals the world over that the United States will be relentless is tracking down and terminating those who would inflict terror, mayhem and death on any of our citizens."

Several praised "the president," but didn't use Mr. Obama's name in their statements rejoicing at bin Laden's death.

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and a leading 2012 contender, released a statement on Sunday night congratulating "our intelligence community, our military and the president" for their actions in bringing down bin Laden.

"My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist," he said. "This is a great victory for lovers of freedom and justice everywhere."

Jon Huntsman, who recently resigned from his position as the U.S. Ambassador to China (a position to which he was appointed by Mr. Obama) took a similar tack.

"This is a proud moment for all Americans," he said in a statement. "Our success in bringing Osama bin Laden to justice is a tribute to our entire intelligence and military infrastructure. I applaud the President's handling of the mission."

Mitch Daniels, meanwhile, said he had "immense pride and gratitude for the people who did this - starting with the president - or both presidents, you could say" - but he implied that neither Bush nor Mr. Obama should jump for recognition.

"I think both presidents would be very quick to give primary credit to our military and to our intelligence people, folks who did the real work," he said Tuesday in an interview on Fox News. "We ought to not over read it either, everyone said correctly this is a huge moment, a symbolic victory that this struggle's not over, won't be for a long time."

Some Republicans, however, were more generous in doling out recognition to Mr. Obama.

Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House and likely GOP candidate in 2012, called the bin Laden's death "a tribute to the patient endurance of American justice," and commended " both President George W. Bush who led the campaign against our enemies through seven long years and President Obama who continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan."

Donald Trump went even further, offering his personal congratulations to "President Obama and the men and women of the Armed Forces for a job well done."

"I am so proud to see Americans standing shoulder to shoulder, waving the American flag in celebration of this great victory," Trump added.

"This is terrific news for freedom and justice," chimed in former Minn. Gov. Tim Pawlenty. "In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice - and we did. I want to congratulate America's armed forces and President Obama for a job well done."

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