Chicago Sun-Times
The scoop from Washington

Obama's latest stop: 10 Downing Street


(AP photo)

LONDON -- Standing in front of No. 10 Downing Street after meeting with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said Saturday his overseas campaign swing showed "people at home, but also leaders abroad, some sense of where an Obama administration might take our foreign policy."

If this sneak preview of an Obama White House might strike some as premature -- as it certainly does the rival McCain camp -- the strategy of the whirlwind visits was to tell the story, illustrated by dramatic photo ops in the Middle East and Europe, that there is a place waiting for Obama on the world stage.

Senior strategist Robert Gibbs -- who this time four years ago was busy with Obama's bid for a Senate seat from Illinois -- said the biggest achievement was to show "the American people that Barack Obama can operate at the highest levels on the international scene. And we hope that voters got a chance to see him in action and get a chance to look at the judgment that he has." Obama, 47 on Aug. 4, has argued since he got in the presidential race that judgment trumps any resume gap voters may be worried about.

After immersion coverage of international affairs -- with big media outlet "exclusive" interviews scheduled almost every day since he left Chicago on July 17 -- the Obama campaign on Monday shifts to "talking and focusing on the economic situation," Gibbs said. Ahead soon is what Gibbs called "the last remaining wild card" -- Obama's selection of a vice presidential running mate.

Obama took questions from British and U.S. reporters on the sidewalk in front of 10 Downing Street, the official residence of the prime minister.

Asked about McCain's charge of a premature victory lap, Obama noted that before he left, McCain had been hammering him for only visiting Iraq once (in 2006) and Afghanistan never, and that the trip -- at least to some of the countries -- has been in the works for some time. From Chicago -- and flying under a cloak of secrecy for security reasons, Obama headed to Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq. From the warzones traveling on military aircraft, Obama flew in his campaign planes to Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian West Bank town of Ramallah, Germany, France and England. It was a 10-day, 8-country trip.

"John McCain has visited every one of these countries post primary that I have. He has given speeches in Canada, in Colombia, Mexico, he made visits. And so it doesn't strike me that we have done anything different than the McCain campaign has done, which is to recognize that part of the job of the next president, commander in chief, is to forge effective relationships with our allies."

Obama successfully navigated through a series of meetings that went off without controversy, avoiding political landmines in the complex Israeli-Palestinian conflict. An issue that the McCain forces are stroking is Obama's cancellation of a visit to a military hospital in Germany. Though the Pentagon approved the visit, the campaign yanked it off the schedule after the Pentagon signaled worry about it looking political.

On relations with allies, Obama's most public warm reception came from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a student of Obama's style who welcomed him to the presidential palace on Thursday. Jordan's King Abdullah personally drove Obama to the airport in Amman on Tuesday in order to spend more time with him. Some 200,OOO Germans filled a Berlin park to satisfy their curiosity about the charismatic American.

Obama was blessed with good timing; just before he left Iraq leaders said they were supportive of Obama's 16-month timeframe to pull out combat troops. And the Bush administration shifted toward the center on Iran, sending an envoy to join with other diplomats to discuss Iran's nuclear capability.

During a meeting with Conservative Party Leader David Cameron, Obama said that he might take a week off in August. He and Cameron chatted about judgment.

"And that is exactly what politics is all about. The judgment you bring to make decisions,'' Cameron said to Obama.

"That's exactly right," Obama said. "And the truth is that we've got a bunch of smart people I think. Who know ten times more than we do about the specifics of the topic and so if what you're trying to do is micromanage and solve everything, then you end up being a dilettante. But you have to have enough knowledge to make good judgments about the choices that are presented to you."


Excellent, and revealing conversation between Obama and Cameron. What a sharp, straightforward, hard working guy.

Barack Obama seems to be acting like he's already the president of the U.S. Last time I checked, Europeans don't get to vote in our elections. Just knowing that alone proves that this is a political stunt. Not to mention, I have already recieved negative feedback from friends in the Marines and Army in Afghanistan, where they said that they got more thanks from the Dallas cowboys cheerleaders than they did from Obama. Plus, he skips a visit to wounded U.S. troops in Germany, simply because the press and news reporters can't go in with him. Guess he doesn't want to visit our brave troops cause it cant get him any press. What a POS.

So happy to see Senator Obama and Senator Hagel building bridges across the globe!

Connor, you sound petulant. Much like the rest of you elephants. Suck it up.
Obama was presidential and a statesman overseas. Remember statesman? We use to have that in our presidents back when we had good ones.
I was thrilled that Sarkozy liked Obama so much as I am half french.
And that joyride with the Jordanian king had to be a blast to see. The king racing down the streets and Obama riding shotgun with his raybans.
Wonder what music was on?
I thought Obama came through all the eggshells of the mideast and proved he could restore our image and relations with our allies.
And it was nice to see people in other countries waving our flag rather then burning it.
Anyone who doesn't think Obama proved himself a capable and able man for president and did not see a classy, dignified and presidential man is just being stupid.
I was proud for my country instead of embarrassed like when chimpy goes abroad.

Connor--you are correct that we are the ones voting for truth and justice (didn't that used to be the American way?).
But you do need to put a bar of soap in your mouth for swearing.
Okay, done?
Now then.
What is hopeful about this trip is it shows that once again, after all of our failures after WW2, the international community seems willing to forgive us.
And prosecute all those war criminals needing rounding up.

You know I wish people would have one set of rules for everyone.

McCain traveled outside the US (Canada, Columbia and Mexico) even held a press conference with the Columbian President after he secured the Republican nomination. Nobody said a word about him being out of line for doing so.

Now, Obama goes to Iraq as Mccain dared him to do. The whole 900 day countdown since he's been in Iraq. Okay, so McCain is responsible for hyping the visit. The press responds and sends their nightly anchors and he complains...McCain.

Barack does exactly what Mccain has done in meeting foreign leaders after his omination and who complains...McCain.

Nobody told Mccain or his people to have him at a grocery story standing in the cheese aisle and in a German restaurant while Obama was meeting with Middle East and European leaders. As a candidate Obama can't just go in and out of the country so he combined the Iraqi trip with meetings in Europe. He timed it before the Olympics...and that was all smart timing on his part.

Now the reception he received during his trip has nothing to do with him. It could have gone all wrong. He was just lucky...just as he was fortunate to get the Iraqi President's sign-off on the 16 month American troop pull out. And Bush coming around to a time horizon aka timetable.

So why is Mccain hating..because the President of France didn't give him the same reception. Because he can't pull a 200,000+ crowd in the US much less a foreign country...why is that Obama's problem.

He and his staff knew about Obama's trip and that the press was sending all their people over there. They could and should have planned for a McCain photo for everyday. And that means a plan A and plan B. McCain didn't seem presidental during that last week.
He and his people should focus on their message rather than complaining about what Obama does. Telling people why they shouldn't vote for the other guy isn't the same as giving them a reason to vote for you.

I never thought of McCain as a whiner but he whined last week and that isn't something I want to see in a president.

Oh and finally, I saw McCain over the weekend say 20 times in an interview that Obama didn't understand the Middle East.
Now that is laughable...

Was Obama the one that had to have someone whisper in his ear to correct a statement he made about the Iraqi factions? Is Obama the one that doesn't know if we are or aren't at presurge levels? Is Obama the one that doesn't seem to know what Middle Eastern country borders another?

If Obama had made any of these gaffes he would have been panned in the press. With McCain it was hardly a story...visible more on blogs than on cable or networks.

So again I say...can we have balance in our expectations. And McCain might want to get his talking points straight and focus on his meessage.


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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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This page contains a single entry by Admin published on July 26, 2008 4:51 PM.

Obama's candid conversation with British Conservative leader David Cameron. Will be taking a week off -- paces himself. was the previous entry in this blog.

Obama lands at Midway Airport; returns from Europe, Middle East is the next entry in this blog.

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