Obama Cancels Trip to Visit Wounded U.S. Soldiers (Update4)
By Patrick Donahue and Julianna Goldman
July 25 (Bloomberg) -- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama canceled a visit to wounded American soldiers at a U.S. military base in southwest Germany after the Pentagon raised issues about whether the trip was campaign-related.
Scott Gration, a foreign-policy adviser to Obama, said that the U.S. Defense Department told the campaign late yesterday that the visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center would be viewed as ``a campaign event.'' The military said that, while it endorsed a visit, it determined that Obama wasn't allowed to be accompanied to the medical center by campaign staff.
``Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go,'' Gration said in the statement.
so why didn't hussien just go see the troops without any cameras and campaign staff???? seems rather simple...
Obama, who drew a crowd of about 200,000 people yesterday to hear a speech in central Berlin, intended to visit Landstuhl in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate this morning before traveling on to Paris. Instead, he telephoned wounded soldiers at the base, a Pentagon spokeswoman said.
``The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign,'' senior strategist Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
Pentagon spokeswoman Elizabeth Hibner said the base was ``prepared to host him, but his campaign canceled the visit.''
Obama ``was told he could visit as an official but he cannot come in an election capacity, not visit with his campaign staff,'' Hibner said in a telephone interview.
The Pentagon considered two Obama aides, Gration and Jeff Kiernan, to be members of his campaign team and therefore not permitted to accompany the senator to Landstuhl, according to a Pentagon letter sent by European Command spokesman John Dorrian. Obama could only be accompanied by one of his Senate staff and ``the appropriate number of security personnel.''
Republican presidential contender John McCain's campaign criticized Obama's decision to cancel the visit.
``It is always appropriate to visit and comfort our brave troops who have served in combat,'' Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman, said in a statement.
Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, declined to comment.
Obama, who is on the penultimate day of a weeklong tour of the Middle East and Europe, visited U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq earlier this week as part of a congressional delegation.
The Illinois senator left Berlin's Tegel airport on his campaign jet after lunch. He is scheduled to meet with French President Nicolas Sarkozy later today before heading on to London, where he will meet with Prime Minister Gordon Brown and his predecessor, Tony Blair.