Romney: ‘Politicizing’ Anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s Death ‘Inappropriate’

By Melanie Arter | May 2, 2012 | 4:44 PM EDT

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, accompanied by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, talks to reporters in front of Engine 24, Ladder 5 in New York, Tuesday, May 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

( During an appearance Tuesday with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney said he would have “ordered taking out Osama bin Laden” just like President Barack Obama did one year ago. Romney disagreed, however, with the president “politicizing” his accomplishment.

The Obama campaign suggested that Romney would have taken a different path when dealing with bin Laden. In a campaign ad last week, the Obama campaign included a quote by Romney referring to bin Laden, saying, “It’s not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person.”

“Thanks to President Obama, bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,” Vice President Joe Biden said in a campaign speech last week. “You have to ask yourself, if Gov. Romney had been president, could he have used the same slogan – in reverse?”

“I think it’s totally appropriate for the president to express to the American people the view that he has that he had an important role in taking out Osama bin Laden. I think politicizing it was, and trying to draw a distinction between himself and myself, was an inappropriate use of the very important event that brought America together, which was the elimination of Osama bin Laden,” Romney said Tuesday.

Giuliani agreed with Romney, saying, he gave the president credit for marking bin Laden’s death last year with a visit to New York City. However, the former NYC mayor said it was “a big mistake” to use the occasion as “a source of negative campaigning.”

“I think that’s a big mistake, and I think he’s mischaracterizing what Mitt Romney said. Mitt Romney basically said that it shouldn’t be our only priority. I seem to recall candidate Obama said the same thing back then, and almost everybody else did. Of course it shouldn’t be our only priority. That would be a mistake,” Giuliani said.

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Romney praised Obama for taking out bin Laden.

“This is a person who had done terrible harm to America and who represented a continuing threat to civilized people throughout the world, and had I been president of the United States, I would have made … the same decision the president made, which was to remove him, and I acknowledged actually a year ago when this was announced that the president deserved credit for the decision he made. I continue to believe that and certainly would have taken that action myself,” Romney said on Tuesday.

A reporter asked how he would reconcile that with comments he made in 2007, when Romney said it was naïve for then-Sen. Obama to announce he would go into Pakistan.

“No, I think I said the same thing as Joe Biden, which was it was naïve of the president to announce he would go into Pakistan. We always reserve the right to go anywhere to get Osama bin Laden. I said that very clearly in the response that I made, but … many people believed, as I did, that it was naïve on the part of the president - at that time the candidate – to say he would go into Pakistan,” Romney said.

“It was a very, if you will, very fragile and flammable time in Pakistan, and I thought it was a mistake of him as a candidate for the presidency of the United States to announce that he would go in, rather just to say – as I did – we reserve the right to go where we feel is appropriate to secure the interests of the United States of America, and certainly, to track Osama bin Laden anywhere he could be found,” he added.