Osama Bin Laden's Death and the Election: How Voters See It

A year after Osama bin Laden's death, the focus isn't on its international implications or revised terrorism strategy. It's on politics and how voters might perceive Barack Obama or Mitt Romney vis-à-vis the demise of Terrorist No. 1.

Says the Obama camp, via Bill Clinton: "Suppose the Navy Seals had gone in there and it hadn't been bin Laden? Suppose they'd been captured or killed. The downside would have been horrible for him, but … he took the harder and the more honorable path and the one that produced, in my opinion, the best result." (Today, the White House even reminds us that bin Laden is dead, in case you forgot.)

Says Mitt Romney on CBS: "I think it was very disappointing for the president to make this a political item by suggesting that I wouldn't have ordered such a raid. Of course I would have. Any American, any thinking American, would have ordered exactly the same thing."

But how do voters view Obama's signature foreign policy accomplishment? Is it a reasonable campaign feather-in-the-cap? Or is it disingenuous political pandering?

Here is how some American voters see it:

Kudos to Obama, but it will little impact the election: "I can't imagine what that moment was like for Barack Obama. Even a person like myself, who witnessed the horror of 9/11 firsthand, would hesitate when confronted with authorizing the killing of another individual -- even if that man was responsible for the murder of 3,000-plus people. No matter how much we cheered for the president at that moment, blood will forever be on his hands. Yet it's tough to imagine the one-year anniversary of the death of this evil plot-master as a major campaign issue in his favor come this November." -- Robert Watkins


Obama winning the war on foreign policy: "Welcome to the twilight zone, a place where Democrats accuse Republicans of being weak on foreign policy . For the first time since perhaps the start of Lyndon Johnson's administration, a Democratic president has the upper hand when it comes to foreign policy.

An April Washington Post - ABC News poll shows Americans trust President Obama over Romney on international affairs 53 percent to 36 percent, and why should they not?" -- Giuseppe Giannet


Bin Laden's death secured my vote for Obama: "When pressed, Barack Obama not only acted, but weighed, in microseconds, the pros and cons of bin Laden's capture. He considered the problems with holding bin Laden for trial. Where could that safely be done? How could we be assured he wasn't giving orders from prison? How would we deal with his martyrdom? How would the security of the U.S. be compromised by capturing and trying bin Laden? He processed all of these complex issues, and then gave the only order that would protect his country. […] His capture of bin Laden confirmed I made the right decision in 2008, and secured my vote in 2012." -- Isa-Lee Wolf


Obama's bin Laden ad reminds voters of failed promise: "Those of us who supported Obama in 2008 wanted change, not only a new administration but a departure from George W. Bush's extra-legal governance. Advertising the killing of bin Laden without due process of law reminds voters like me of promise gone astray. Highlighting bin Laden's killing reminds of Obama's Machiavellian willingness to flaunt the rule of law to achieve an end. […] For the first time in my life, I'm strongly inclined to vote for a Republican presidential candidate." -- Carol Bengle Gilbert


A clear distinction between Obama and Romney: "Obama's latest campaign video implies a President Mitt Romney would not make the same decision to take out bin Laden. The video uses Romney's own words to underscore this. He said, 'It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person,' in 2007. In true Romney style, he backpedaled, saying that he would 'move everything to get him.' When it comes to bin Laden, just like many other issues, Romney can't make up his mind. When it comes to national security, we don't have the luxury of changing our minds and foreign policy when it suits us." -- Whitney Levon


Any president would have done the same: "Being president is a roll of the dice. Herbert Hoover did not plan on the stock market crash of 1929. Jimmy Carter did not plan on the Iran hostage crisis . George W. Bush did not plan on September 11. We judge presidents instead on how they handle these events. […] Barack Obama , in approving the raid that rid the world of notorious al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden , was handed a golden opportunity not given most presidents : a moment of maximum glory for minimum risk." -- Calvin Wolf


Osama bin Laden's death is not what will help Obama: "While I'm both glad he's gone and we now know of Pakistan's duplicity, in the bigger picture, the successful Abbottabad raid is just one small part of the improved image of President Barack Obama . It's just a bonus. What will all but guarantee President Obama a successful re-election bid is his competition -- the Republicans. […] Compared to the clown car of candidates the Republican Party offered up this election season, at least we're familiar with the incumbent-in-chief. And as my dad always told me, better a devil you know than the devil you don't know." -- Donald Pennington

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