Alexa
  • Directory of Taiwan

Obama, Romney pause to remember 9/11 attacks

Obama, Romney pause to remember 9/11 attacks

President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney muted the partisan anger that has marked their race for the White House, giving Americans a day off Tuesday from negative advertising on the 11th anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
With the Nov. 6 election less than two months away, however, neither candidate was staying out of sight. Obama observed a moment of silence at the White House before visiting the Pentagon, the target of one of four planes al-Qaida hijacked in attacks that killed nearly 3,000.
At the U.S. defense headquarters, Obama placed a white floral wreath above a concrete slab that said "Sept. 11, 2001 - 937 am." A moment of silence began at 9:37 a.m., when the Pentagon was hit.
"Our country is safer, and our people are resilient," Obama said.
The president then visited the graves of recent war dead from Afghanistan and Iraq at Arlington National Cemetery. He later planned to visit wounded soldiers and their families at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
At the time of the somber White House observance, Romney was shaking hands with firefighters at Chicago's O'Hare Airport, recalling the sacrifice of first responders to the attacks. Romney later was flying to Nevada to address the National Guard, whose members deployed as part of the military response.
"On this most somber day, those who would attack us should know that we are united, one nation under God, in our determination to stop them and to stand tall for peace and freedom at home and across the world," Romney said in a written statement.
In a dramatic turnaround from the two previous presidential elections after the 2001 attacks, this year's race has been dominated by the economy rather than national security concerns.
Polls show Obama leading Romney on terrorism and national security issues, but both are a low priority for voters concerned about sluggish economic growth and an unemployment rate still above 8 percent.
A CBS News/New York Times poll conducted in July found just 37 percent of voters called terrorism and security extremely important to their vote, while 54 percent said the economy and jobs were most important.
In 2004, the first presidential election after the attacks, about two-thirds of voters said protecting the country was more important than creating jobs when deciding their vote, according to an AP-Ipsos poll conducted shortly before that election. President George W. Bush defeated Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry in large part by convincing voters that he was the best candidate to keep the country safe.
That role now falls to Obama, who accepted the nomination for a second term at a Democratic convention last week that reminded voters at every turn that he ordered the daring raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the attacks.
Attacks on the terrorist network continue. On Monday, an airstrike killed al-Qaida's No. 2 leader in Yemen, Saeed al-Shihri, a Saudi national who fought in Afghanistan and spent six years at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to have political implications. Romney did not mention Afghanistan in his speech accepting the Republican Party's presidential nomination last month. While he had spoken about the war a day earlier to the American Legion, his critics lambasted him for failing to mention the ongoing war and the troops during what was arguably the most important political speech of his life.
Romney provoked more criticism when he defended the omission by telling NBC in an interview broadcast Sunday: "I have some differences on policy with the president. ... I happen to think those are more important than what word I mention in each speech."
At least 1,987 U.S. troops have died in Afghanistan and 4,475 in Iraq, according to the Pentagon. At least 1,059 more coalition troops have also died in the Afghanistan war and 318 in Iraq, according to iCasualties.org, an independent organization.
____
Associated Press writers Philip Elliott and Julie Pace contributed to this report.