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August 30, 2011 10:40 AM Mitt Romney and the ‘surrender to terror’

By Steve Benen

We talked over the weekend about al Qaeda’s losing streak and U.S. forces killing Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, the terrorist network’s #2 leader. It comes on the heels of U.S. forces killing Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda financial chief Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, al Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and al Qaeda spiritual leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, among others.

This got me thinking about something Mitt Romney said a few years ago.

In February 2008, Romney delivered a speech announcing his withdrawal from the presidential race. He explained his rationale for quitting this way:

“If I fight on in my campaign, all the way to the convention, I would forestall the launch of a national campaign and frankly I’d be making it easier for Senator Clinton or Obama to win. And in this time of war, I simply cannot let my campaign be a part of aiding a surrender to terror.”

For those who may have forgotten it, Jon Stewart had a compelling reaction to the remarks at the time.

But more than three years later, I’m curious: does Romney think he was right? Barack Obama became president, and has proven far more successful in combating terrorism than his Republican predecessor. Does Romney stand by his belief that electing Obama president was part of “a surrender to terror”?

Or does Romney regret making the charge in 2008, and realize now he was wrong?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.

Comments

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  • c u n d gulag on August 30, 2011 10:48 AM:

    Being al Qaeda's #2 has got to be the only job worse than the PR flack who has to explain Mitts ever-changing positions.

    He/she's also constantly facing 'incoming.'

  • Anonymous on August 30, 2011 10:48 AM:

    He will flipflop and try to convince the media that he never said it.

  • Vondo on August 30, 2011 10:48 AM:

    "Or does Romney regret making the charge in 2008, and realize now he was wrong?"

    What do the polls of Republican primary voters say?

    Ask again once he gets the nomination.

  • CDW on August 30, 2011 10:54 AM:

    Or does Romney regret making the charge in 2008, and realize now he was wrong?

    No

    captcha: polityKo way Sounds like the Tao of the GOP

  • Josef K on August 30, 2011 11:10 AM:

    But more than three years later, Iím curious: does Romney think he was right?

    Romney thinks? Since when?

    In seriousness, I doubt heavily he remembers uttering such dross, but on some level I think he was on target. In a very meaningful sense, we have 'surrendered' to terror in that the Bush Administration's policies have been fully embraced and furthered by the Obama White House.

    We've taken to extrajudicial killings as if they were always a matter of national policy, the whole concept of trial-before-execution now seeming a quaint relic rather than a bedrock principle. I don't feel especially safer, especially when the government is willing and ready to act with such dispatch and force, with little regard to due process anymore.

    I don't doubt for a moment this is what Romney himself was referring to in '08, but the point remains viable nontheless.

  • walt on August 30, 2011 11:29 AM:

    Josef K: word.

  • Josef K on August 30, 2011 12:01 PM:

    To walt: I hope that's a positive reaction.

  • dricey on August 30, 2011 1:12 PM:

    Since when do Republicans experience regret? And when was the last time a Republican acknowledged any accomplishment on the part of Barack Obama?

    It's vain to ask fairness from these people. Increasingly, it's even vain to ask decency - witness Eric Cantor's demand that we use Scrooge-based accounting in providing disaster relief to the victims of Irene.

    If only we had the sort of media influence they have, and could get that message out, daily.

  • Califlander on August 30, 2011 1:29 PM:

    We've taken to extrajudicial killings as if they were always a matter of national policy ...

    Actually, they have been for a good long time. We carefully plotted the killing of Admiral Yamamoto while he was on an inspection tour of Japanese bases in the South Pacific in 1943: the Navy obtained his travel itinerary through the use of electronic intelligence and we sent a squadron of P-38s to ambush his plane en route. The order to kill Yamamoto came from FDR himself.

  • treetop on August 30, 2011 1:51 PM:

    "Or does Romney regret making the charge in 2008, and realize now he was wrong?"

    I'm sure you know the answer. Romney has lots of regrets and has made lots of flip-flops. The key to understanding these flips is that every flop has put him closer to the median Republican primary voter. Admitting that Obama is better on terrorism than Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld fails that test.

  • tamiasmin on August 30, 2011 2:00 PM:

    Califlander,

    Is killing a senior officer in the enemy's forces in a declared an extrajudicial killing? Is the commander-in-chief, who is charged under the Constitution with conducting such a war, required to seek judicial review before acting? Or are you using "extrajudicial" to refer to actions that quite properly do not involve the courts?

  • Josef K on August 30, 2011 3:44 PM:

    From Califlander @ 1:29 PM:

    Actually, they have been for a good long time.

    I should have added that I'm not naive enough to think the US hasn't had foreign nationals assassinated when it served its purposes. What's disturbing to me here is how its being touted these days as a perfectly acceptable and above-board action, particularly against private citizens (at least one such target being an American citizen) who are neither military officers nor officials of a foreign government, and against whom no legal charges have been filed in any domestic venue.

    Calling this a "slippery slope" is an understatement, especially when you consider the increased radicalism of the GOP these days. If you're not worried at the potential dangers of this, you're the one being naive.

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