Marking the one year anniversary of Osama Bin Laden’s death, Barack Obama and Joe Biden used the accomplishment to attack Mitt Romney on his foreign policy record. Even Bill Clinton joined in. Biden made the widely reported comment that “Bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive”, adding that the reverse might be true had Romney been president. Biden also said that Obama “has a big stick”, referring again to Obama’s foreign policy.
These comments sparked a storm of coverage on both candidates’ foreign policy, as well as Obama’s use of the Bin Laden raid as a campaign point. This is reflected in Chart 1. In mid-April, coverage of foreign policy issues was at only 1%, and economy was over 20%. Just two weeks later, coverage of foreign policy rose to over 20%, surpassing the key economy issue by 12.5%.
The resulting discussion became very negative, as both campaigns attacked eachother. Biden’s statements caused an backlash from Romney and put him on the defensive. After conceding that Obama made the right decision in the Bin Laden raid, Romney went negative in discussing Obama’s handling of Afghanistan, Israel and Iran. In discussion of foreign policy, over 24% of statements have been negative to Obama, with Romney being the driving force of this negativity (Chart 2).