A top adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney on Sunday refused to disavow a new super-PAC video from former U.S. military officers attacking President Barack Obama's national security record, and questioned whether the White House had made the country safer.
The bipartisan Special Operations OPSEC Education Fund, a group of former special operations and intelligence officers, last week released a video charging the Obama administration with leaking details of sensitive national security operations and of using the mission targeting former al Qaeda leader bin Laden for political gain.
Kevin Madden, a senior adviser to the Romney campaign, said he has not seen the ad in question but noted the group's concerns over the politicization of defense issues is a critical one.
"I think it makes an important point, actually, about whether or not some of the national security decisions that the president made were actually helped by some of the policies that were put in place before he was there," Madden said during an interview on ABC's This Week.
The Romney camp plans to drill down into the devastating effect these unauthorized disclosures have had on U.S. military and intelligence operations worldwide, Madden said.
"Our campaign is focused on making the arguments about national security leaks, about how that would hurt our national security posture," he said. "And those are the kind of arguments that we're going to continue to contrast with the Obama campaign."
However, the Obama team argues the claims made by the OPSEC group are baseless and conjure up images of the national security-focused smear campaign waged against Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) in the 2004 election.
That year, Vietnam veterans working under the name Swift Boat Veterans for Truth lambasted the Democratic senator’s war record during his time in the Navy.
The group, named after the patrol boats Kerry and others used to navigate the river lands in Vietnam, severely damaged the Massachusetts Democrat's national security credentials during the campaign.
On Friday, Kerry argued the OPSEC fund was attempting to do the same thing to the Obama campaign that the Swift Boat veterans did to his.
In the statement sent to Obama supporters, Kerry said the fund's baseless attacks are similar to those made by the so-called "birther" movement, whose followers maintain President Obama was not born in the United States.
"It shouldn’t be a surprise that [Republicans] are resorting to the same national security smear tactics I faced in 2004. We have to take it seriously," he said.
Obama "has a foreign policy record that is among the strongest in recent memory," Kerry said, compared to Romney's severe lack of national security credentials.
"Republicans have a candidate with absolutely no foreign policy experience, who thinks Russia is our 'number one geopolitical foe' and who is advised by people who think ... the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia are countries that still exist," Kerry said.