AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - President Barack Obama brought up the killing of Osama bin Laden at a fundraiser in Texas on Tuesday, but treaded carefully by crediting troops and intelligence officers for catching the al Qaeda leader.
“We’re taking the fight to al Qaeda,” the president said at the first of two events expected to raise about $2 million for the Obama Victory Fund.
“Because of the extraordinary bravery of the men and women who wear this nation’s uniform and the outstanding work of our intelligence agencies, Osama bin Laden will never again threaten the United States,” he said to cheers from the audience of about 750 people at a downtown Austin theater.
The White House has tried since Obama announced bin Laden’s death last week not to appear too triumphant about the killing.
Some critics have charged that Obama has taken too much credit for the shooting of the world’s most wanted man by an elite special forces unit.
A Democratic Party official had suggested Obama would not even bring up bin Laden in his fundraising remarks, although that seemed unlikely given the enormity of the event and the public’s huge interest in the story.
“Thank you for getting bin Laden,” a member of the audience shouted to Obama before he mentioned the al Qaeda leader.
Obama replied with a line he has used as part of his case for White House re-election: “It should inspire us to finish what we started.”
Many Americans were relieved at the death of the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks.
A Reuters/Ipsos poll released after his killing found it had boosted opinions of Obama’s leadership and efforts to fight terrorism.
About four in 10 Americans said their opinion of Obama improved after learning that he ordered the successful raid, the poll found.
Political analysts expect bin Laden’s death to provide a fundraising boost to the Democratic president as he amasses what some say could be a $1 billion war chest for his 2012 re-election campaign.
Editing by Laura MacInnis