President Obama’s tactic of campaigning on the killing of Osama Bin Laden appears to be backfiring amid plunging polls and objections from a key Democratic ally and Navy SEALs themselves, whose members executed the operation.
Meanwhile, Obama decision to make the killing a political showpiece has galvanized conservatives, who are outraged that an operation that relied partially on work done during the Bush administration and that was carried out by American’s finest servicemen has become a political pawn.
Conservative media and talk shows are dominated by discussion of the political maneuver and Obama’s move to open the Situation Room to NBC News in order to showcase the president’s role in the killing.
In the days since Vice President Biden launched the Bin Laden effort Thursday with a speech in which he said “Osama bin Laden is Dead” should be emblazoned on an Obama bumper sticker, Obama’s approval rating has declined from 50 percent to 47 percent, while the number who disapprove has climbed from 44 percent to 48 percent, according to Gallup.
Over the same period, Mitt Romney has erased a seven-point Obama lead, with the matchup switching from 50-43 percent in favor of Obama to a one-point Romney lead, 47-46 percent.
Many variables can contribute to polls, including margin of error. But the major storyline of the campaign over the last several days has been the Bin Laden killing.
In a startling development, one of Obama’s most important supporters, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post, came out Monday against Obama’s use of an advertisement to tout the Bin Laden killing.
Here’s what she said:
In a piece in the Daily Mail, several former and current Navy SEALs themselves objected to the use of their work for Obama’s reelection campaign.
One current SEAL stuck his neck way out to express his displeasure.
A serving SEAL Team member said: ‘Obama wasn’t in the field, at risk, carrying a gun. As president, at every turn he should be thanking the guys who put their lives on the line to do this. He does so in his official speeches because he speechwriters are smart.
‘But the more he tries to take the credit for it, the more the ground operators are saying, “Come on, man!” It really didn’t matter who was president. At the end of the day, they were going to go.’
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney, who has been the butt of Obama campaign suggestions that he would not have green lighted the raid, appears to have developed an effective counterstrategy, positioning himself as being above such low-grade tactics.
“Let’s not make the capture and killing of Osama bin Laden a politically divisive event,” Romney said today.
Obama rejects the idea that he’s overdoing it. “I hardly think you’ve seen any excessive celebration taking place here,” he said Monday.