Presidential candidates from both parties spent Tuesday making special visits to observe the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death, with President Obama making a surprise appearance in Afghanistan (WashPost) and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joining former mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York City (Politico) at a fire station hit hard with losses on 9/11.
Part of Obama’s hours-long visit included meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai to sign the recently drafted Strategic Partnership Agreement. Obama also gave a speech broadcast in the United Sates, saying the last three years have been crucial to the destruction of the Taliban and building up Afghan security forces and reiterating his pledge to bring U.S. troops home as soon as possible.
In New York, Romney took the opportunity to defend his 2007 comments (NYT) that he would not pursue bin Laden into Pakistan, which the Obama campaign is using in a controversial 2012 ad. Romney also commended Obama’s visit to Afghanistan in a statement, saying the Taliban must not be permitted to return to power.
“Our troops and the American people deserve to hear from our President about what is at stake in this war,” he said. “Success in Afghanistan is vital to our nation’s security. It would be a tragedy for Afghanistan and a strategic setback for America if the Taliban returned to power and once again created a sanctuary for terrorists.”
Voter confidence in the economy held steady in April at a four-year high, according to Gallup. The economy remains the top issue of the campaign, with voters aware of incremental improvements but concerned about the slow pace of recovery and chances of slipping back into recession.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is an average of two consumer-driven components: voters’ ratings of current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the economy is getting better or getting worse.
“Increasing public optimism about the economy’s direction has been the main engine of the recent recovery in confidence,” Gallup says, while warning that there may be a limit to how high economic optimism can go on its own. “As long as ratings of current conditions continue to stagnate or rise by only a few points each month, a full recovery of economic confidence into positive territory could still be a long way off,” Gallup says.
After just a few of weeks with the campaign, Romney’s national security and foreign policy spokesman Richard A. Grenell resigned Tuesday (WashPost). Grenell, who is openly gay, said in a statement obtained by Jennifer Rubin’s blog Right Turn that a “hyper-partisan discussion of personal issues” has diminished his ability “to clearly and forcefully” speak on issues of foreign policy in the campaign.