Word torture: Obama staffers insist we are not really on a campaign trip. (well, maybe sometimes.)

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AMMAN, JORDAN--The Obama campaign is planning a big public rally in a major park in Berlin on Thursday. Thousands of Germans are anticipated to attend when presumptive Democratic nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) delivers what is being billed as a "substantive" speech on Trans-Atlantic relations. Yet campaign top advisors Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod insist this is not a campaign event though it is conceived, organized, financed and executed by the campaign.

This seems to be a matter of parsing, for what reason I can't imagine.

The Obama trip to Iraq and Afghanistan is taxpayer-funded official government business. The rest if paid for by the campaign. But all the travel is still a political swing, no matter who pays the bills, done in the context of Obama's presidential candidacy premised in large part on expertise in getting U.S. combat troops out of Iraq and redeployed to Afghanistan.

Tuesday in Amman, Axelrod continued the rhetorical torture when asked to confirm a report that the campaign may use the Berlin video for ads or other Obama promotional purposes. There was a bit of a testy exchange between reporters and staffers once they started, at a morning briefing, telling us how the Berlin speech is not a campaign event.

(The campaign routinely has a staffer on the road with reporters to tape almost everything for the Obama website; if higher quality video is anticipated, ad man Jim Margolis and his crew is often on the scene.)

Said Axelrod, "The answer is that, of course, any event outside of a CODEL is a campaign event. But it is not a political rally. He will not engage his American political opponents. It is a speech to our allies and the people of Europe and the world. And as such, we wanted it to be open to the public and not just invited guests."

I've covered Obama speeches for his entire 17-month presidential campaign. Most often when he has a policy speech, Obama makes it inside and with an invited--usually handpicked and sympathetic--audience.

This word play started last week when, Gibbs said of the whole nine-day, seven country trip that it "is not a campaign trip, a rally of any sort."
The campaign does expect a worldwide audience for the Berlin speech.


What is wrong for the public (be it in Berlin or elsewhere) to hear Obama? I am here in Japan and the networks who seem to complain about the coverage bring Obama's speech to my homeroom via the TV set whether I like it or not.
The transatlantic relations are important for the entire world so just as we can see it on TV whether invited or not, people should be given the opportunity to listen to Obama. Period. Get over it. The man has his moment. Let him savor it.

If his trips to Iraq and Afghanistan , were not political and they were paid by tax-payers money. Obama need to give a detailed record on the Senate floor explaining what was said to congress and the American people. Nothing that Obama has done since leaving Hawaii, in the 1980's wasn't for political gain. He has used the back of others to step up politically.

Ms. Sweet,

It is the height of inflammatory hyperbole to use the phrase "word torture" to describe the Obama campaign's assertion that the Berlin event not be described as "a campaign event".

The campaign's claim is clearly a "word enhanced interrogation technique."

so-called "Austin Mayor"

The trip will be on the air in the united states seven day's the week and it will attack mccain at his strong side at the question who will be a good commander in chief. The campaign is right so far as that they are not on a campaign trip because they are on a media trip at his best which happens to be part of a successfull campaign.

Words, Words, Words---Obama is a politician and as such is always seeking forums in which to advance thoughts, ideas and feelings. Of course he wants those present to be receptive and the rest of the world, U.S.A. included, to see him function and communicate at the international level. This trip is an expression of bold leadership and holds the promise of possibilities for America, unlike the negative and suppressive actions of the current Bush Administration. The contrast is refreshing.


You know this is a campaign speech, Obama and his people know it's a campaign speech, and the informed public realize the same. Is getting them to admit to it really going to score you or any other reporter some sort of kudos?

Let it go...and hope for a legitimate meaty scandal down the line. Gotcha reporting seems to be the media's M.O as of late.


Obama’s impossible road ahead:


Keep up the good work, Ms. Sweet. This is just another huge propaganda event staged by the master, Axelrod. No signs, no banners, no bags allowed. Well, if Europe loves him, let them vote him in as THEIR president. We need someone who is open, honest, experienced and cares about ALL Americans.

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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 Lynn Sweet published on July 22, 2008 6:20 AM.

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