How big a boost is the killing of Osama bin Laden to President Obama's re-election effort?
The 2012 campaign remains a referendum on Obama's economic rather than national-security record. But the raid makes a second term more likely. The unambiguous triumph and show of strength will resonate on the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11, and again in September 2012 on the eve of the election, regardless of what happens in the next 18 months. Every GOP challenger will face a higher expectation for managing complex national-security problems with the same sophistication that Obama has shown.
How have Republicans reacted?
Conservatives have praised the military, the intelligence community and even the President (some talk-radio hosts have been an exception). Bushies felt Obama should have shared more credit with their guy. Obama's decisive and muscular performance caused Republican heads to shake--some in disbelief and some in political frustration. After a decent interval, some Obama opponents will pivot to his past opposition to the CIA's enhanced-interrogation methods, which seem to have played a role in the takedown.
Whose 2012 GOP prospects are most hurt by Obama's shining moment?
Obama's performance makes the terrain more difficult for any candidate who lacks foreign policy experience (Tim Pawlenty, Mike Huckabee) or is perceived as undisciplined (Newt Gingrich, Michele Bachmann, Donald Trump). The contenders whose standing is least affected: Mitt Romney and Mitch Daniels, since jobs and the economy are their bread and butter.