AMMAN, JORDAN--Presumptive Democratic Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) nominee flies on a military V-22 jet here this afternoon from Iraq for several chores he hopes will lead him to the White House: a one-on-one meeting with Jordan King Abdullah for about 30 minutes; an interview of about the same length with CBS' Katie Couric, a press availability with U.S. reporters and dinner with members of the king's inner court.
After less than a day here, Obama tonight climbs into his campaign plane and flies to Israel. When takeoff occurs is not exactly known. As an advisor to Obama said during a briefing on Tuesday morning, "The dinner is not over until the King says it is over."
The briefing, done on the condition reporters not quote the "senior advisers" (yes, I protested but for a practical matter I did not raise maximum fuss since this is a fight I can wage in the U.S.) revealed:
*The Obama stagecraft will be on display later today when Obama hosts a press conference in the ancient ruins of the Amman Citadel. The backdrop will be the "new" Amman. The camera swing will take in the "old," including the ruins of a temple dedicated to Hercules. The visual metaphors abound: old, new, Obama's "Herculean" task of winning the presidency, etc.
*Obama will take a walk through the Temple of Hercules with two senators who accompanied him to Iraq and Afghanistan, Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) Hagel, then will be participating in a Democratic campaign event, sort of a trade-off; Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Ct.) is stumping for Sen. John McCain (R-Az.)
*Beside His Royal Majesty King Abdullah, the dinner party will include the three senators, Obama foreign affairs and military advisor Scott Gration, members of the king's inner circle and the Jordanian ambassador to the U.S.
The King, who had been visiting the U.S. departed for Jordan from Colorado about 2:30 a.m. Jordan time on Tuesday to arrive home in time. The effort the king is making suggests he figures that Obama has a pretty good chance of winning the election and it makes sense to cultivate a relationship. Both the King, who assumed the throne in February, 1999, and Obama are 46. (Obama turns 47 on Aug. 4).
*Bi-lateral issues to be discussed: Top of the list, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Jordan, a moderate Muslim signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994 and has a long history of trying to resolve the regional conflict.
Also on the plate in Jordan and Israel: counter terrorism, nuclear non proliferation, energy security, climate change, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran and other regional issues; Syria and Iran sponsorship of Hamas and Hezbullah.