5 Min Read
* Says Obama deserves credit, but...
* Bin Laden death dominates campaign trail
* Romney in New York with Giuliani
By Sam Youngman
NEW YORK, May 1 (Reuters) - Republican Mitt Romney accused President Barack Obama of politicizing the killing of Osama bin Laden as the first anniversary of the daring raid dominated U.S. presidential politics.
Obama, a Democrat, has touted the death of the al Qaeda leader as a crowning achievement of his national security policy and his campaign has tried to raise doubts about whether Romney would have made the same gutsy decision to send an elite special forces team into Pakistan to kill bin Laden.
Romney was in New York to mark the bin Laden anniversary by reminding Americans of its connection to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that killed 3,000 people and triggered the U.S. war in Afghanistan. He was to appear with then-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani at a New York fire station.
"I congratulated the president and the intelligence community, as well as SEAL Team 6 ... So I acknowledged the president's success and think he has every right to take credit for commanding that attack," Romney told CBS' "This Morning."
At the same time, said Romney, "I think it was very disappointing for the president to make this a political item by suggesting that I wouldn't have ordered such a raid. Of course I would have. Any American, any thinking American, would have ordered exactly the same thing."
Obama backers were quick to point to remarks Romney made in his 2008 race for president when then-candidate Obama said he would go after "high-value terrorist targets" within Pakistan with or without the approval of Pakistan's president, Romney said he did not agree.
"I do not concur in the words of Barack Obama in a plan to enter an ally of ours. ... I don't think those kinds of comments help in this effort to draw more friends to our effort," Romney told reporters on the campaign trail in August 2007.
Romney said at the time that U.S. troops "shouldn't be sent all over the world." He called Obama's comments "ill-timed" and "ill-considered."
Romney has come under heavy criticism from the Obama campaign since becoming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee last month.
Both sides are engaging in brutal campaign tactics to try to get a leg up on the other in a race that is already extremely close and figures to be for the next six months until the Nov. 6 election, when voters will decide whether to give Obama a second term or install Romney as the new leader.
The Obama campaign opened a new front against the former Massachusetts governor with a television ad to run in the battleground states of Virginia, Ohio and Iowa.
It accuses Romney, a former private equity executive, of backing policies that would lead to the outsourcing of American jobs overseas.
"As a corporate CEO, he shipped American jobs to places like Mexico and China," the ad's voiceover says "
In response, the Romney campaign accused Obama of seeking to take attention away from his handling of the U.S. economy, still struggling with 8.2 percent unemployment.
"With the worst job creation record in modern history and the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression, President Obama is trying to distract Americans from the real issues with a series of sideshows," said Romney spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg.
The Obama campaign is seeking to raise doubts about how Romney would deal with the U.S. economy, faced with polls showing Americans believe Romney would handle economic affairs better than the president.
Where Romney lags Obama is on personal likability, a point that his wife, Ann Romney, attempted to address in the CBS interview.
"He's funny," she said. "I still look at him as this, this is the boy that I met, in high school, when he was pulling all the jokes, and really just being crazy. Pretty crazy. So there's a wild and crazy man inside of him ... just waiting to come out," Ann Romney said.
Romney, seeking to bolster ties among conservatives who were suspicious of him throughout a long primary battle, is to meet with his last major conservative challenger, Rick Santorum, on Friday but an endorsement is not expected.
Another rival, former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich, is to formally withdraw from the race on Wednesday.