Romney in 2007 on whether he’d reserve the right to go after Bin Laden in Pakistan: “Of course…[but] we keep our options quiet”

posted at 5:01 pm on April 29, 2012 by Morgen Richmond

Robert Gibbs is the latest member of the President’s re-election team to distort comments Mitt Romney made about going after Bin Laden in 2007. Via Politico:

Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs on Sunday defended the suggestion by the president’s reelection campaign that Republican rival Mitt Romney might not have ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

“Look, just a few years ago, President Obama – then a candidate – said in a speech that if we had actionable intelligence of a high-value target in Pakistan, we’d go in and get that high value target,” Gibbs said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”  “Mitt Romney said that was foolish. He wouldn’t do such a thing. That he wouldn’t move heaven and earth to get Osama bin Laden.”

Gibbs and other Democrats have focused on comments made by Romney in April 2007, where he said “it’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person”. The full context of Romney’s remarks demonstrate that he was actually calling for a more strategic and expansive approach in the fight against Al Qaeda and Islamic extremism. And that the ongoing effort to capture or kill Bin Laden should not be to the detriment of the larger goals.

But there is no reason for Romney’s accusers in the Obama campaign to parse over his words from April 2007. It turns out Romney was asked directly about this very scenario in the first Republican presidential debate in August 2007. Now I wonder why they haven’t highlighted this?

It’s wrong for a person running for president of the United States to get on TV and say we’re going to go into your country unilaterally. Of course America always maintains our option to do whatever we think is in the best interest of America. But we don’t go out and say “ladies and gentleman of Germany, if ever there was a problem in your country [and] we didn’t think you were doing the right thing, we reserve the right to come in and get them out”. We don’t say those things, we keep our options quiet.

While many of us might cringe at Romney’s characterization of Pakistan as a ‘friend’, his criticism of Obama’s public support for striking targets within Pakistan was an opinion widely shared at the time, and not only within the GOP. Here’s what Chris Dodd had to say on this:

Frankly, I am not sure what Barack is calling for in his speech this morning. But it is dangerous and irresponsible to leave even the impression the United States would needlessly and publicly provoke a nuclear power,” said Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn.

And Hillary Clinton:

Well, I do not believe people running for president should engage in hypotheticals. And it may well be that the strategy we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence…might lead to a certain action…But I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists who are in bed with al-Qaeda and Taliban. And remember, Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The last thing we want is to have al-Qaeda-like followers in charge of Pakistan and having access to nuclear weapons. So you can think big, but remember, you shouldn’t always say everything you think if you’re running for president, because it has consequences across the world, and we don’t need that right now.

And who better to have the last word than the always reliable Joe Biden:

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware responded later in the debate, noting that the strategy Obama outlined was already U.S. policy.

“Everyone’s entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts,” Biden said. “It’s already the policy of the United States — has been for four years — that there’s actionable intelligence, we would go into Pakistan.”

This is the bottom line of course. As Biden revealed this was already the policy under the Bush Administration, even if it was not publicly discussed due to sensitivities with Pakistan. And there wasn’t a viable candidate on either side of the aisle in 2008 who would have been likely to change this. It’s also pretty likely that any one of them would have ultimately made the same “gutsy call” to raid Abbottabad that the President did, but I suppose a debate over this hypothetical is fair game. But what isn’t fair game is to misrepresent Romney’s comments from 2007. It’s clear he wasn’t ruling out going into Pakistan to get Bin Laden or other high value targets. The only thing he was opposed to was the same thing Hillary Clinton was opposed to which was Obama’s grandstanding over this issue at the expense of valid national security concerns. The fact that history now reflects more favorably on Obama’s position in 2007 does not change this. Nor does it change the fact that his campaign is blatantly misrepresenting Romney’s record.

Update: Added additional text to Hillary’s quote above. Note how closely Obama’s eventual choice for Secretary of State mirrored Romney on this question. (Romney’s comments were made on August 5th in Iowa and Clinton’s on August 7th in Chicago.)


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Nothing I said was “sophomoric”. ddrintn’s “brethren” remark was not a respectful comment, it was a disparaging jab at his religion.

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Maybe I should’ve used the word “Comrades” instead, ‘bot. But the word brethren is NOT a reference to Mormons, and you know it. It’s just a cheap shot to try to shame me into silence. There is zero difference between you and the O-bots you claim to despise.

I will pay ANYONE $1,000 and promise never ever even to log on to this site if ANYone can find any disparaging remark I’ve ever made about the Mormon faith, or its role in Romney’s life. ANY remark. Put up or shut up, O-Rom-bots. Especially you BD, despicable piece of crap. Or else take your little Alinskyite asses on to the next smear job.

Monkeytoe and DDRINTn have been taking some tough punches from BD.

Bradky on April 30, 2012 at 4:42 PM

LOL. Tough punches? Cheap shots. And lookie here, now that there aren’t as many Palin threads for him to infest, Bill Maher has apparently taken to trailing me. How thoughtful.

ddrintn on April 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM

What punches have I taken? BD’s points have wholly missed the mark, are self-contradicting, and don’t respond to my points at all. Except for where he admits I am correct.

Monkeytoe on April 30, 2012 at 5:07 PM

As usual for BD. SHe blabs on embarrassingly and then one of her compadres has to come up behind her and at least appear to clean up the mess. You didn’t take any punches except in their imaginations and attempted “narrative”. You have to realize we’re dealing with libs here.

ddrintn on April 30, 2012 at 5:25 PM

Maybe I should’ve used the word “Comrades” instead, ‘bot. But the word brethren is NOT a reference to Mormons, and you know it. It’s just a cheap shot to try to shame me into silence. There is zero difference between you and the O-bots you claim to despise.

I will pay ANYONE $1,000 and promise never ever even to log on to this site if ANYone can find any disparaging remark I’ve ever made about the Mormon faith, or its role in Romney’s life….

ddrintn on April 30, 2012 at 5:18 PM

There ya go. “Comrade” does not have the same connotation as “the brethren”. You could have corrected yourself at 7:46 a.m. But you didn’t.

I asked you to explain it here:

You chose to use the word “Brethren”. Now that you’ve stated it had no religious connotation, instead of spewing bile why don’t you explain what you meant by it.
Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 8:11 AM

Later I say:

Let’s cut to the chase here. The use of the word “Brethren” has religious connotations and ddrintn used it in a pejorative manner. Why oh why did I get the distinct impression he was mocking his religion? If he wants to mock his religion, fine, but he should at least own up to it rather than attack me for noting his odd choice of words. If he misspoke, and inadvertently chose the wrong word to express a thought, he can offer a correction.

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 8:24 AM

It’s not my fault you chose to use a word which implied a religious connection. As for your past commentary, keep in mind that angryed’s mask only slipped within the past two weeks. Nothing he said in the past gave any hints about his sudden interest, say, in Obama’s race. I’ll take you at your word, I’m just pointing out it’s not proof of anything because sometimes people do their best to hide their true feelings and then they slip and say something very revealing. I would just ask that you not call me “despicable” for knowing what words mean and calling attention to their use.

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 6:00 PM

It’s not my fault you chose to use a word which implied a religious connection. As for your past commentary, keep in mind that angryed’s mask only slipped within the past two weeks. Nothing he said in the past gave any hints about his sudden interest, say, in Obama’s race. I’ll take you at your word, I’m just pointing out it’s not proof of anything because sometimes people do their best to hide their true feelings and then they slip and say something very revealing. I would just ask that you not call me “despicable” for knowing what words mean and calling attention to their use.

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 6:00 PM

It’s not my responsiblity to have to go around proving that I’m not a bigot. Accusing someone of being an anti-Mormon bigot based solely SOLELY on the use of the word “Brethren” is merely an attempt to shame them into silence. Nothing more. It is the same tactic followed by O-bots. And I don’t think angryed’s gone around railing on the Mormon faith, either. You don’t dig what we have to say, don’t have any good response to what we say, and therefore have to rely on cheap shots.

That said, this:

Especially you BD, despicable piece of crap.

..was over the top, and I apologize. The tactic is despicable. You’re probably an A-OK person away from the Internet.

ddrintn on April 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Monkeytoe,

Where to begin? Trying to keep up with you is like trying to keep a boat on course without a rudder in a storm. You’re drifting all over the place, making all sorts of generalizations that don’t address my specific comments. I can’t speak for anyone else. Is it possible to focus on my comments, not everything other people might have said at one time or another?

It is no different that someone saying “I am not going to vote for “x” because “x” is pro-choice and abortion is against my religion.”
Monkeytoe on April 30, 2012 at 5:05 PM

If a candidate took the position they would outlaw abortion because it was against his (or her) religion, what would your response be? Obviously politicians can say something is morally wrong, and even base it on broad Judeo-Christian principles, but if they start saying, “I belong to X church and X church tells me this is wrong so I’m going to try to outlaw it” they’d be crossing a line. But who does that?

Back to my point, and trying to use something that doesn’t inflame like the Wahhabi example apparently did, I would want to know, for instance, if a candidate was a Mennonite. Because Mennonites are pacifists. I don’t think I’d be able to vote for a commander in chief whose religion instructed him that the use of force was always wrong. Thus, the person’s faith is clearly valid in that instance to consider when voting. As it is in all instances.
Monkeytoe on April 30, 2012 at 5:16 PM

That’s a good example and is perfectly fine because it would have direct bearing on how he would govern. But I dare say you can’t find a similar example that applies to Romney.

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 6:24 PM

ddrintn on April 30, 2012 at 6:12 PM

Apology accepted. BTW, it was your use of the words, plural, “the Brethren” which caught my attention. It was like hearing someone say “the coven” or something. If you had only said “brethren” I may not have blinked an eye. Even little words like “the” change the meaning of sentences. And I wasn’t trying to “shame you into silence”. That’s the last thing I do here.

And I don’t think angryed’s gone around railing on the Mormon faith, either. You don’t dig what we have to say, don’t have any good response to what we say, and therefore have to rely on cheap shots.

I didn’t suggest he did. But he has been using Obama-centric arguments lately and said some very bizarre things which seemed out of character. Many people have noticed this. We’ve even considered scenarios such as him giving someone else his password, because some comments sound like a different person writing them. As for your claim I don’t have a “good response” that’s entirely a matter of opinion…

Buy Danish on April 30, 2012 at 6:35 PM

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