* Romney and Obama both withhold television ads
* Campaigns walk political tightrope
* Obama visits Pentagon, Biden to Shanksville
By Samuel P. Jacobs
WASHINGTON, Sept 10 The killing of Osama bin
Laden and the war in Afghanistan are becoming increasingly
charged campaign issues, but both U.S. presidential candidates
will put politics on hold to observe the anniversary of the
Sept. 11 attacks on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney
will freeze their barrage of television ads for the day a s
ceremonies across the United States remember the 2,977 people
killed by the 2001 attacks.
It is recognition of the awkwardness of throwing political
punches on a day when politicians typically call for the nation
to come together.
"Both campaigns have to be very, very careful to appear
respectful and avoid the impression of exploiting a national
tragedy for political purposes," said Bill Galston, a former
adviser to President Bill Clinton and fellow at the Brookings
Although there will be no overt campaigning, in such a tight
race the two men and their aides always have one eye on
messaging that can move polls in their favor.
Romney may be the candidate who most needs to shore up his
national security credentials, both as the challenger and
because he was criticized even by senior Republicans for
omitting to mention the war in Afghanistan during his acceptance
speech at the Republican convention last month.
On Tuesday morning, Obama and first lady Michele Obama will
join a moment of silence on the South Lawn at the White House
and then appear at a memorial service at the Pentagon. Obama
will also visit with wounded soldiers and their families at
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
Romney plans to address the National Guard Association
Convention in Reno, Nevada, and campaign staffers in at least
six states will collect donations and organize a letter-writing
campaign for U.S. troops serving overseas.
Romney's wife, Ann, is expected to participate in events
marking the anniversary in Florida. Romney's campaign will halt
operations in Virginia, home to the Pentagon where 184 people
were killed in the al Qaeda attacks.
"Team Virginia will not engage in political activity on
September 11th," Sara Craig, campaign manager in the
battleground state, told supporters on Monday.
Vice President Joe Biden will speak at the Flight 93
memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania - another battleground
state - where a hijacked United Airlines passenger flight
While the economy remains the foremost issue among voters,
the Obama campaign has been increasingly on the offensive when
it comes to foreign affairs.
At the Democratic convention last week, Obama's supporters
spoke proudly of bin Laden's killing in 2011, highlighting it as
a signature achievement for the president.
When accepting the Democratic presidential nomination, Obama
attacked Romney as a foreign policy novice and pointed to the
planned end of the war in Afghanistan and the rebuilding of One
World Trade Center in downtown Manhattan as signs of American
resurgence during his first term.
Romney has praised the U.S. killing of bin Laden, but said
Obama's policies toward Iran had made the country less safe
during his time in office.