President Barack Obama portrayed the anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden as a time for reflection Monday and pushed back on criticism that the White House was using the occasion for "excessive celebration."
Obama, at a news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, questioned whether his Republican presidential rival Mitt Romney would have made the same decision in targeting the al-Qaida leader. Without mentioning Romney by name, Obama recommended looking at people's previous statements on the issue.
Obama's re-election team has seized on a quote from Romney in 2007 where he said it was not worth moving heaven and earth to go after one person.
On Monday, Romney said he "of course" would have ordered bin Laden to have been killed.
In the news conference, Obama said: "I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they'd do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it."
Obama is heralding the anniversary in an NBC news special Wednesday that includes an interview in the White House Situation Room where he and aides watched the raid on bin Laden's compound. His campaign also drew attention to bin Laden's death in a video that featured President Bill Clinton applauding Obama's decision to go after bin Laden in Pakistan.
Obama rejected the suggestion of excessive celebration, saying "the American people rightly remember what we as a country accomplished in bringing to justice somebody who killed over 3,000 of our citizens."