And while Boccieri said that bin Laden’s death likely wouldn’t encourage him to run again following his 2010 loss, it wouldn’t exactly discourage him either.
“I think it was Richard Nixon who said, ‘You’re not finished until you quit.’ And I haven’t quit yet,” Boccieri said Monday. “Obviously, there is a different level of trust for military. ... I was one of three Members who served in Iraq and one of four to have served in Afghanistan.”
And to the extent that bin Laden re-injects national security into the political discussion, some Republicans see an opportunity as well.
Sen. Scott Brown, who is among the most vulnerable Republicans up in 2012, used the day after bin Laden’s death to remind voters of his military credentials in a unique way.
A lieutenant colonel in the Massachusetts National Guard, Brown said in a statement that he has requested permission to conduct this year’s annual Guard training in Afghanistan.
“Doing so will help me to better understand our ongoing mission in that country and provide me first-hand experience for my duties on the Senate Armed Services, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs committees,” he said.
The vast majority of consultants of both parties interviewed for this story, however, agreed that Democrats, if anyone, would benefit in the wake of bin Laden’s death, which comes nearly a decade after he planned the most deadly terrorist attack on American soil in history.
“More than anything, this removes any perception that the president is lacking in leadership,” Democratic consultant Nathan Daschle said. “This will also test the discipline of Republican leaders, especially those running for president. The competitive nature of politics is going to put pressure on them to minimize this moment or somehow try to shoehorn Republicans into the limelight. Either one would be so antithetical to the mood right now. ”
Bin Laden’s death also largely neutralizes a long-standing political advantage Republicans have enjoyed on national security issues.
“It makes it harder for Republicans to draw a contrast on security,” Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway said. “The bigger issue is the economy. If the security situation were getting bad, it would be a double negative, if you will. This sort of helps keep security on the back burner as a hot political issue.”
Indeed, Republican consultants said that any political benefit for Democrats will be minimal, especially in an election cycle that was probably going to be dominated by economic and fiscal issues anyway.
“He’ll get a solid boost off of this, as he should, but then it’s about what he does with it,” one Republican consultant said. “But it occurs too early to have a big impact either way on re-elect and we’re still headed toward an economic election. ... We’ll be back to budget debate within a week and GOP candidates will drive on economic issues.”
Further, GOP strategists predicted that Obama’s bump in the polls will fade relatively quickly and attention will soon shift to Democratic voters’ mounting displeasure with continued military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.