Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) accused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) of injecting partisanship Monday into his reaction to news of Osama bin Laden's death.
Frank, a senior Democrat with a signature blunt style, said that Cantor had adopted a partisan tone when, in a statement congratulating President Obama on the death of bin Laden, the second-ranking House Republican said Obama had "followed the vigilance of President Bush in bringing Bin Laden to justice."
"Let’s give discredit where it is due," Frank told the liberal blog ThinkProgress. "For Eric Cantor to phrase it that way, to say [Obama] followed the vigilance of President Bush is a degree of key partisanship that exceeded what I even expected from Cantor. That’s just sad."
Cantor's statement wasn't much different from those made by other Republicans on Monday. Many GOP lawmakers took care to both congratulate and praise Obama and former President George W. Bush for the successful assassination of bin Laden.
The Virginia Republican echoed that sentiment Monday afternoon on Capitol Hill.
"Nearly 10 years ago, President Bush stood before the nation after 9/11 and pledged to the American people that we will not tire, we will not falter and we will not fail in our quest to defeat those who intend to do us harm through acts of terror," he said alongside other GOP leaders. "Last night, we heard President Obama tell a very changed nation that we did not fail."
Republicans say they're not the only one injecting politics into the situation; they say Frank's statement itself politicizes the debate, and that he and Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) and Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), who each issued politically-tinged statements claiming credit for Obama, should recognize Bush's role in bin Laden's capture, as Republicans have.
Frank challenged the notion that Cantor would be taking the same strides to praise a president's predecessor if he were from the Democratic party.
"If Bush had gotten Osama after Clinton had failed do you think Eric Cantor would’ve given Clinton credit and said, 'Oh good Bush got Osama bin Laden, he showed the same vigilance as Bill Clinton?' " he asked. "No. Not even close."
Updated 5:58 p.m.