Gingrich commends Bush, Obama after bin Laden death

Former Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) praised both President Obama and former President George W. Bush on Monday after the U.S. raid that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Gingrich called bin Laden's killing "a significant victory in the long struggle between radical Islamists and modern civilization," and was one of just three likely GOP presidential hopefuls to commend Obama.

"This victory is a tribute to the patient endurance of American justice," Gingrich said in a statement. "I commend both President George W. Bush who led the campaign against our enemies through seven long years and President Obama who continued and intensified the campaign in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"We should remember to thank those who made this possible," Gingrich continued. "Without the courage and professionalism of our men and women in uniform and in the intelligence services, this victory would not have been achieved."

Still, warned Gingrich, bin Laden's death is only "a milestone in a long war."

"As long as there are schools teaching children to hate; as long as there are state-supported terrorist systems; as long as several countries actively recruit children to be suicide bombers; this war will continue," he said.

With his Monday statement, Gingrich joined a litany of other potential GOP hopefuls who cheered the raid that killed bin Laden, but only Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty offered any praise for Obama. 

"Congratulations to our intelligence community, our military and the president," Romney said in a statement. "My thoughts are with the families of Osama bin Laden's many thousands of victims, and the brave servicemen and women who have laid down their lives in pursuit of this murderous terrorist.”

Pawlenty said: "In the hours after the 9/11 attacks, President Bush promised that America would bring Osama bin Laden to justice — and we did. I want to congratulate America's armed forces and President Obama for a job well done. Let history show that the perseverance of the US military and the American people never wavered."

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Sen. Rick Santorum (Pa.) and Rep. Michele Bachmann (Minn.) didn't single the president out for any congratulations in their statements on bin Laden's death.

-Michael O'Brien contributed to this report.