The Election 2012 Weekly Report: Dark Days

"Spiking the football" As expected, President Barack Obama‘s campaign is fully capitalizing on the killing of Osama bin Laden in his reelection pitch. An ad released on the one-year anniversary of the Abbottabad raid features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for having the courage to order the raid and suggesting that Mitt Romney would ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages

"Spiking the football"

As expected, President Barack Obama's campaign is fully capitalizing on the killing of Osama bin Laden in his reelection pitch. An ad released on the one-year anniversary of the Abbottabad raid features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for having the courage to order the raid and suggesting that Mitt Romney would not have made the same call. Romney pushed back on Monday, saying "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."  The ad's release preceded a surprise trip to Afghanistan, during which the president signed a new strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government and addressed the U.S. public from Bagram air base.

Others criticized the Obama campaign for politicizing the issue and "spiking the football" as he had promised not to do in the waking of the killing.. "Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad," said Sen. John McCain. The group Veterans for a Strong America released a response ad, "throwing the penalty flag up on President Obama for excessive celebration." The ad made the case that "Heroes Don't Politicize Their Acts of Valor."

"Spiking the football"

As expected, President Barack Obama‘s campaign is fully capitalizing on the killing of Osama bin Laden in his reelection pitch. An ad released on the one-year anniversary of the Abbottabad raid features former President Bill Clinton praising Obama for having the courage to order the raid and suggesting that Mitt Romney would not have made the same call. Romney pushed back on Monday, saying "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order."  The ad’s release preceded a surprise trip to Afghanistan, during which the president signed a new strategic partnership agreement with the Afghan government and addressed the U.S. public from Bagram air base.

Others criticized the Obama campaign for politicizing the issue and "spiking the football" as he had promised not to do in the waking of the killing.. "Shame on Barack Obama for diminishing the memory of September 11th and the killing of Osama bin Laden by turning it into a cheap political attack ad," said Sen. John McCain. The group Veterans for a Strong America released a response ad, "throwing the penalty flag up on President Obama for excessive celebration." The ad made the case that "Heroes Don’t Politicize Their Acts of Valor."

Other commentators have pointed out that Obama is hardly the first president to politicize military success.

The battle over Chen

This week saw a high-stakes standoff in Beijing over the fate of human rights activist Chen Guangcheng on the eve of a major U.S.-China summit. In addition to his iconic status in China, Chen enjoys widespread support in the United States, including among prominent anti-abortion members of Congress. After Chen suggested to the media that he had been pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy and had been abandoned by U.S. officials, Romney was quick to respond. "If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom. And it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration," Romney said during an event with Virginia where he was endorsed by former candidate Michele Bachmann.

Romney was criticized for his response by Weekly Standard editor and prominent neoconservative commentator Bill Kristol, who told Fox News, "To inject yourself into the middle of this way with a fast-moving target I think is foolish."

The United States and China reached a tentative deal on Friday that will allow Chen to leave China.

Romney spokesman steps down

The Romney campaign’s newly appointed foreign policy and national security spokesman Richard Grenell stepped down this week. It wasn’t Grenell’s foreign-policy views that led to his downfall as much as the fact that he’s openly gay and supports gay marriage. The appointment of Grenell, who had served as spokesman for former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton,  came under attack from religious conservatives from the beginning. He also faced criticism from liberals over tweets attacking major democratic political figures.

"While I welcomed the challenge to confront President Obama’s foreign policy failures and weak leadership on the world stage, my ability to speak clearly and forcefully on the issues has been greatly diminished by the hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues that sometimes comes from a presidential campaign," Grenell said in a statement.

Newt’s exit

Newt Gingrich officially suspended his campaign this week, but if the Romney camp was hoping for a strong endorsement, they came away disappointed. "As for the presidency, I’m asked sometimes, is Mitt Romney conservative?" Gingrich said in his concession speech at the Arlington Hilton. "And my answer is simple. Compared to Barack Obama? You know, this is not a choice between Mitt Romney and Ronald Reagan. This is a choice between Mitt Romney and the most radical leftist president in American history."

Though he acknowledged that his staunch support for establishing a colony on the moon may not have done wonders for his campaign, he promised to "cheerfully" recommit himself to the cause. Referring to his grandchildren, he said "I’m not totally certain I will get to the moon colony," he said. "I am certain Maggie and Robert will have that opportunity to go and take it. I think it’s almost inevitable on just the sheer scale of technological change."

The latest from FP:

Michael Scheuer makes the case for why Ron Paul would be a great foreign-policy president.

Colum Lynch looks at the guilty schadenfreude at the U.N. over of Grenell’s fate.

With Obama attacking Romney over his overseas wealth, Uri Friedman asks whether poor people can open Swiss bank accounts.

Stephen Walt wonders if the Kabul trip will be Obama’s "mission accomplished" moment.

Scott Clement says voters are fine with presidential chest-thumping, as long as it’s their candidate who’s doing the thumping.

Michael Cohen argues that the Bin Laden killing is "the core of [Obama’s] reelection prospects."

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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