Stop Complaining, GOP!

Mark McKinnon: GOP Attacks on Obama’s Bin Laden Ad Misguided

Bush campaign adviser Mark McKinnon on why the GOP’s complaints only help the Democrats.

05.02.12 8:45 AM ET

So President Obama is launching his reelection campaign and happens to mention one of the greatest foreign-policy achievements of our time: the killing of Osama bin Laden.

C'mon people, it would have been absurd not to mention it.

Just as it would have been absurd for the Bush campaign not to mention 9/11 in our 2004 reelection launch. In fact, all we did in our ads was say we faced some unexpected challenges and showed some images of 9/11. And we were crucified by the Democrats.

How dare we exploit 9/11 for political purposes, brayed the Democrats, John Kerry, and the firefighter unions eight years ago.

And now, how dare Obama exploit OBL for political purposes, say Republicans today.

It's history folks. It happened. We can't and shouldn't ignore these seminal events of our times for some ridiculous PC notion that these are sensitive issues and if we talk about them we are exploiting them or offending brave citizens or soldiers who lost their lives.

Now I personally don't think Obama has to hit things very directly on the nose regarding bin Laden. I always prefer a subtle glove rather than a high-fived slap. But, Obama has every right to tout this significant accomplishment. And if he wants to suggest Mitt Romney might have done otherwise, that's his right as well. That's what campaigns are all about.

It is Obama's right and obligation to characterize his record and run on it.

And when you look down the list of Obama's accomplishments, if you're honest about it and take out the politics, you would have to say eliminating Osama bin Laden is right there at the top.

So I say to Republicans: take an aspirin. Applaud Obama's significant foreign- policy achievement. Get some credit for being honest and then take that credibility and turn the argument back to the economy, where the turf is much friendlier.

Because here's the lesson.  When Democrats went crazy about our 9/11 ad in 2004, all they did was bring more attention to the message we were trying to communicate.  Which is precisely the trap Republicans are falling into today.