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Romney Flip-Flops on Bin Laden

May 4, 2007

In last night's Republican presidential debate at the Reagan Library, former Massachusetts Mitt Romney added Osama Bin Laden to his rapidly growing list of flip-flops. By alternately downplaying or emphasizing the importance of capturing Bin Laden as political circumstances require, Romney finds himself in good company - with President Bush.
On Thursday, Romney-turned-Rambo declared that his presidency would signal that the end is nigh for Bin Laden. "He's going to pay, and he will die," a determined Romney said. Sadly, a more sedate Mitt Romney pooh-poohed the importance of getting Osama Bin Laden only days before:

"It's not worth moving heaven and earth spending billions of dollars just trying to catch one person."

This cynical reversal, of course, is vintage George W. Bush. Romney has taken a page from the Bush playbook which, as I wrote in January 2006, states that the threat posed by Bin Laden is directly proportional to the threat to the President's political standing.
Consider the following Bush statements, each made to either whip up war fervor or to deflect criticism of his own glaring inability to bring Bin Laden to justice:

"There's an old poster out west, as I recall, that said, "Wanted: Dead or Alive." (September 17, 2001)
"So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, Kelly, to be honest with you...I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him." (March 13, 2002)
"Gosh, I just don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. It's kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden." (October 13, 2004)
"All I would ask them to do is listen to the words of Osama bin Laden and take him seriously. When he says he's going to hurt the American people again, or try to, he means it. I take it seriously, and the people of NSA take it seriously." (January 26, 2006)

Despite his claim to the mantle of Ronald Reagan, Mitt Romney on the pursuit of the Al Qaeda chief seems better positioned to follow the legacy of George W. Bush.

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Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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