Candidates and Crisis

FLASHBACK: In 2008, candidate Obama used U.S. troop deaths for talking point

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September 12, 2012

Late last night the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney issued a statement condemning the mob assaults on the U.S. Embassies in Egypt and Libya, and criticizing the Obama administration for the U.S. Embassy in Cairo’s equation of the assault with fringe individuals who hurt "religious feelings."

Early this morning, President Barack Obama’s campaign returned fire on his Republican opponent. Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt said, "We are shocked that, at a time when the United States of America is confronting the tragic death of one of our diplomatic officers in Libya, Governor Romney would choose to launch a political attack."

In 2008, however, while Obama was running for the office he now holds, he was not above using national tragedy to launch political attacks.

Obama repeatedly used an incident in Afghanistan in which nine U.S. servicemen were killed to make the political point that resources reserved for the Iraq campaign were draining needed support from troops in Afghanistan.

As the New York Times reported, then-Candidate Obama criticized the Bush administration on July 13, 2008, arguing "a new round of violence on Sunday, in which nine American soldiers died in fierce fighting with the Taliban in eastern Afghanistan, underscored the military challenges ahead for the United States."

According to the transcript of an interview on CNN’s "Larry King Live," Mr. Obama reiterated his talking point the next day:

You know, was it a wise thing to go in there (Iraq) and what are the costs and benefits of staying there indefinitely? We're spending $10 billion a month there. We've spent $200 billion since the surge began. Meanwhile, the situation where—you know, where the central front against terrorism should be taking place, in Afghanistan, the situation has deteriorated. And we had this brazen attack on a U.S. base where nine servicemen were killed.