Amid GOP attacks, Obama touts killing of Bin Laden

President Barack Obama reads his statement to photographers after making a televised statement on the death of Osama bin Laden from the East Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday, May 1, 2011.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

Updated: 12:50 p.m. ET

(CBS News) Amid attacks from presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney on President Obama's "failed record," the Obama campaign is spotlighting what may represent the most clear-cut victory of the president's tenure in office so far: The killing of Osama bin Laden.

The Obama campaign released a video Friday in which former President Bill Clinton touts the president's leadership in proceeding with a raid on bin Laden's Pakistan compound last year - a risky mission that resulted in the al Qaeda leader's death.

"He knew what would happen. Suppose the Navy Seals had gone in there and it hadn't been bin Laden," Mr. Clinton says in the minute-and-thirty-second spot. "Suppose they'd been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him. But he reasoned, I cannot in good conscience do nothing. He took the harder and the more honorable path and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result."

Ahead of the raid on bin Laden's Abbottobad complex in May 2011, the Obama administration was divided over whether and in what form to launch the mission, according to the New York Times. Ultimately, Mr. Obama opted to send in Navy Seals rather than bombing the compound -- an option which would have been less risky but which would have provided less certainty as to whether or not bin Laden had been killed in it.

"Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?" the ad asks, presenting the question via subtitles.

The spot posits an answer to that question, supplying an April 2007 quote from Romney saying, of the hunt for bin Laden, "It's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

In recent days, the Romney campaign has hammered Mr. Obama for what his campaign argues is a flimsy record, accusing the president of predicating his re-election bid on "scattershot attacks" and his own likability since he does not have a strong record to run on.

"We now know that only one campaign is going to run on President Obama's record of the past three-and-a-half years in office - and it's not the Obama campaign," said Romney campaign manager Matt Rhoades in a Friday memo blasting the president. "Without the ability to run on a record of achievement, the incumbent is reduced to a campaign based on scattershot attacks on Governor Romney in particular and Republicans in general."

An RNC memo released Friday morning mirrored that argument, blasting Mr. Obama for his recent appearance on Jimmy Fallon, which was widely circulated on the internet: "A successful incumbent would just run on his record. A failed president resorts to 'slow jamming the news.'"

The attacks are an apparent effort to portray the Mr. Obama as a likeable political lightweight in contrast to an allegedly more serious - if markedly less "cool" -- alternative.

"Democrats say this won't be a referendum on Obama," former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour told a Republican polling firm. "It'll be a choice -- the choice is that slimy, mean, dirty, greedy, cheatin', lying Republican, or Prince Charming."

Team Obama, meanwhile, is bringing out the big guns to combat the GOP framing of the president as a lightweight.

"Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive," said Vice President Joe Biden in New York on Thursday. "You have to ask yourself, 'had Governor Romney been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?' People are going to make that judgment. It's a legitimate thing to speculate on."

Mr. Clinton argued in the video released Friday that Mr. Obama has demonstrated his ability to make the tough calls required of a president.

"He had to decide," Clinton said, of Mr. Obama's decision to proceed with the bin Laden mission. "And that's what you hire a president to do. You hire the president to make the calls when no one else can do it."