Texas Gov. Rick Perry congratulated Obama, along with the military and intelligence agencies, for "aggressive anti-terror policies." Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney commended the president for his efforts to keep Americans safe and said al-Awlaki's death was a "major victory" in the terrorism fight.
With the first nominating contests about three months away, foreign policy and terrorism have been virtually absent from the Republican race. When the issues have arisen, most GOP contenders have tried to portray the president as a weak leader. It's a sentiment they hope taps into voters' frustration with the economy.
Bruce Jones, an expert on transnational threats, said Obama's success against terrorist leaders may help counter that GOP strategy.
"At the very least, it takes away from the critics the idea that he can't lead, that he doesn't understand those kinds of issues," said Jones, also a senior foreign policy fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.
Beyond the counterterrorism efforts, Obama aides say they believe the president will get credit come Election Day for his foreign policy achievements in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, as well as for his support of other democratic uprisings throughout the Arab world. They say the president has boosted U.S. standing in the world, making it easier to get international backing for his policies, rather than having to go it alone.
But there is some concern among Obama backers that a foreign policy issue most likely to find a place in the 2012 campaign is one that has achieved little success: securing peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
On that vexing issue, Obama finds himself caught between Republicans and some Jewish voters painting him as anti-Israel, and much of the world community, which disagrees with his opposition to Palestinian efforts to seek statehood recognition at the United Nations.
Associated Press writer Phillip Elliott and news survey specialist Dennis Junius contributed to this report. Associated Press writer Julie Pace can be reached at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC
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