Obama cancels plan to visit troops in Germany
BERLIN – U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama dropped a plan to visit wounded U.S. troops in Germany to avoid perceptions that the stop was political.
“Senator Obama had hoped to and had every intention of visiting our troops to express his appreciation and gratitude for their service to our country,” said retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, an adviser to Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee.
Gration said the Pentagon had informed Obama’s staff that a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center would be viewed as a a campaign event and Obama opted against going forward with it.
“Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event,” Gration said.
The visit to Landstuhl had not been officially announced but Obama’s campaign acknowledged it had been planned after Republicans criticized Obama for canceling the visit.
Senior Obama aide Robert Gibbs noted that the Illinois senator had visited troops during the earlier part of his foreign tour in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a stop at a combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad.
“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,” Gibbs said.
The campaign of Republican John McCain, Obama’s rival in the November election, criticized the statement from Gibbs.
“It is never inappropriate to visit and comfort our brave men and women who have served in combat,” said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds.
Photo credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz (Barack Obama waves to crowd as he leaves hotel in Berlin)