GOP: Obama exploiting killing of bin Laden

(CBS News) WASHINGTON - Tuesday marks one year since U.S. Navy SEALs killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

The anniversary is turning into a presidential campaign issue.

Republicans say Mr. Obama is using bin Laden's death for political gain, and they don't like it.

When the president announced bin Laden's death, he called it a moment for national unity, saying, "Today's achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people."

Now, Mr. Obama's campaign is using the president's decision to order the bin Laden mission as a point of contrast with likely GOP opponent Mitt Romney.

"Osama bin Laden no longer walks on this planet today because of that brave decision and the brave actions by the men and women in our military," senior Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday. "And quite frankly, Mitt Romney said it was a foolish thing to do a few years ago."

That comes after the release by the Obama campaign Friday of a web video featuring former President Clinton saying Mr. Obama "took the harder and the more honorable path, and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result."

The video then asks, "Which path would Mitt Romney have taken?"

Gibbs and the Obama campaign are referencing remarks Romney made in 2007, that it is "not worth moving Heaven and Earth and spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." Romney said he was more focused on a comprehensive terrorism strategy.

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Republicans say the Obama campaign is exploiting what should be a nonpartisan victory for the country.

"This is one of the reasons President Obama has become one of the most divisive presidents in American history," senior Romney campaign adviser Ed Gillespie said on "Meet the Press" Sunday. "He's managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan political attack."

And in a statement, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., Mr. Obama's White House rival in 2008, writes that the president is "doing a shameless end-zone dance to help himself get reelected."

[In 2007 McCain referred to Romney's bin Laden comment as "naive."]

This is not a new theme for the Obama campaign. Just last Thursday, Vice President Biden summed up what he said could be a bumper sticker for the campaign, saying, "Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive" (referring to the Obama administration-backed bailout of the auto company).

To see Bill Plante's report, click on the video in the player above.

  • Bill Plante

    Bill Plante is a CBS News Senior White House Correspondent