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GOP criticism of Obama's use of Bin Laden anniversary cools down

May 02, 2012|By Morgan Little
  • President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at the White House in Washington, DC, returning from a surprise trip to Afghanistan.
President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at the White House in Washington,… (Brendan Smialowski / AFP/Getty…)

WASHINGTON -- Accusations that President Obama politicized the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death seemed to simmer down after the president's surprise trip Tuesday to Afghanistan, where he spoke to U.S. troops and signed a new strategic agreement with the government in Kabul.

GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, who had mocked Obama's decision to go ahead with the military mission that killed Bin Laden in May 2011 by declaring it a call even Jimmy Carter would have made, struck a far different tone after Obama's quick trip, saying he was "pleased that President Obama has returned to Afghanistan.”

“Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our president about what is at stake in this war,” Romney said.

Romney’s statement followed his remarks Tuesday during an interview with CBS, when he labeled as "disappointing" an Obama campaign ad that suggested Romney would not have proceeded with the Bin Laden raid.

After heavily criticizing Obama for politicizing the anniversary of the Bin Laden mission, Sen. John McCain also took a step back from his previous remarks.

“I think it’s always good when the president goes to where our young men and women are in harm’s way,” McCain told CNN prior to the president’s address.

Retired Gen. James “Spider” Marks, during an interview with CNN’s Carol Costello Tuesday, also praised Obama’s visit.

“The fact that the commander in chief spends time with his soldiers in harm's way, his service members in harm's way, is nothing but a good thing,” he said.

“Now, clearly it's not serendipitous that he signed the accord on the one-year anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death,” Marks added. “But that's good when the president spends time with his service members. That's great.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, bordered on excitement over the president’s remarks.

“This is a day I have been looking forward to for over two years,” he said. “I am confident that with proper implementation, this will help secure our nation and allies from future attacks using Afghanistan as a staging area.”

But some, such as Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), didn’t hesitate to continue their criticisms of Obama.

“This trip to Afghanistan is an attempt to shore up his national-security credentials, because he has spent the past three years gutting our military,” a statement from Inhofe said. “He cut the F-22, future combat system, C-17, and our ground-based interceptor in Poland, to name a few. On top of that, he has tried to close Gitmo, the very source of some of our intelligence that resulted in bin Laden’s demise.”

Sen. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) was particularly critical of the president’s agreement with the Afghan government.

“There's nothing new in the agreement,” he told CNN. “It just basically says we're going to have an ongoing relationship; we're not going to have any permanent bases. We'll work together as partners and the troops, fighting troops, will be out in 2014.”

Not surprisingly, Democrats lavished praise on Obama’s speech and the security agreement with Afghanistan.

“Today’s agreement brings us closer to the end of a painful chapter in our nation’s history that started on Sept. 11, 2001,” Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement.

Beyond the reactions from Washington, there was a deadly response to Obama’s visit from within Afghanistan’s borders, with the Taliban claiming responsibility for a retaliatory suicide attack in Kabul that killed seven, including a student going to school, that occurred soon after the president departed.

morgan.little@latimes.com

Original source: GOP criticism of Obama's use of Bin Laden anniversary cools down

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