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Politics of bin Laden: 'Fair game' vs. 'divisive'

Politics of bin Laden: 'Fair game' vs. 'divisive'
Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 6:52pm

Washington (CNN) -- Obama campaign senior adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday defended a recent Web video that invoked the killing of Osama bin Laden as evidence of the president's strength as commander in chief.

The spot, partially narrated by former President Bill Clinton, praised President Barack Obama's decision to order the killing of the al Qaeda chief and questioned whether Mitt Romney would have made the same choice.

Team Obama was criticized by some for politicizing last year's event, but Gibbs, the former White House press secretary, said the spot was "not over the line."

"There's a difference in the roles they would play as commander in chief, and I certainly think that's fair game," Gibbs said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The video, released Friday, quoted Romney in 2007 during his first White House bid, saying "it's not worth moving heaven and earth, spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person." Days later he said, "We'll move everything to get him (bin Laden)."

During his second White House bid, Romney has repeatedly praised the president for launching the raid on bin Laden. But Gibbs said the presumptive Republican nominee's earlier comments were "foolish."

Ed Gillespie, a senior adviser to Romney's campaign, said utilizing the raid for political purposes is one of the reasons Obama has "become one of the most divisive presidents in American history."

"He took something that was a unifying event for all Americans ... and he's managed to turn it into a divisive, partisan political attack," Gillespie said on the same program. "I think most Americans will see it as a sign of a desperate campaign."

Gillespie, a former aide to former President George W. Bush and former chairman of the Republican National Committee, also declined to say whether the United States is safer under the current president.

"I don't think that under President Obama, America is as strong as it should be or will be under a President Romney," he said.

White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan would not say if he was "comfortable" with the politicization of the events surrounding the al Qaeda leader's death by U.S. Navy Seals during a raid in Pakistan.

"I don't do politics," Brennan said Sunday on CNN's "State of the Union." "I just know that President Obama, when the time came for him to make a momentous decision like that, he took the action that did bring bin Laden to justice."

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