Steele: Bin Laden slaying shouldn't scare off 2012 GOP hopefuls

Osama bin Laden's killing should not scare off some of President Obama's potential GOP challengers from entering the race, former Republican National Committee (RNC) Chairman Michael Steele said Monday.

Steele predicted that Obama would receive a bump in the polls, but said that history shows that the former al Qaeda chief's slaying does not guarantee Obama victory in 2012.

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"I think they would be making a mistake" if a potential Republican presidential candidate decided not to enter the race, Steele said on ABC's "Top Line" webcast. "I think the '92 presidential proved that."

Steele, of course, was referencing Bill Clinton's defeat of George H.W. Bush nearly two decades ago, after the latter received a bump in the polls following the Persian Gulf War in 1991.

"I expect that the president's numbers will strengthen," Steele said. "I think that should not be a foreboding sign for anybody."

A significant number of potential candidates have not yet taken an official step toward running for president, such as former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman and billionaire businessman Donald Trump.

Some pundits have speculated that the slaying could significantly bolster Obama's chances of being reelected in 2012.

But Steele said that the economy and jobs will still dominate the political landscape, despite the bin Laden slaying. The former chairman said that those are issues where the GOP could still get after the president.

Steele, who was a frequent critic of Obama during his rocky tenure at the RNC, praised him and said that it would be wise for Republican presidential candidates to not go after the president over the bin Laden operation in particular.

"On this particular point, there is no politics here. It really does stop at the water's edge ... like it did after 9/11," he said. "Presidential candidates and the GOP are going to have to take that very seriously and approach it from that standpoint."