“The code name for Bin Laden was ‘Geronimo.’ The president and his advisers watched Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director, on a video screen, narrating from his agency’s headquarters across the Potomac River what was happening in far-away Pakistan.
“‘They’ve reached the target,’ he said.
“‘We have a visual on Geronimo,’ he said.
“A few minutes later: ‘Geronimo EKIA.’
“Enemy Killed In Action. There was silence in the Situation Room.
“Finally, the president spoke up.
“They train around the clock… They know that failure will not be an option. Either they succeed or they don’t come home.”
“‘In the short term, it’s hands off the president,’ says an adviser to a Republican presidential candidate, discussing the political atmosphere after the U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden. ‘The country is feeling good about itself, really for the first time in years, and the president is the embodiment of that. Nobody wants to be the person who pops that balloon.’
“Talks with aides and associates of several leading Republican candidates suggest they all believe the same thing: This is a time to step out of the way and let Barack Obama take credit for killing bin Laden. The advisers expect the president’s poll numbers to rise. And then they expect those numbers to go back down, and the campaign to return to economic issues…
“‘You have to be very careful about how you handle the president,’ says the first adviser. ‘His economic policies are still fair game, but anything that sounds personal is bad. He’s going to be riding a wave for some time.'”