Obama cancels plan to visit troops in Germany

July 25, 2008

 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.

obama-wave.jpg“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.

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz (Barack Obama waves to crowd as he leaves hotel in Berlin)

23 comments

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It just shows you one major flaw Obama has. He is a coward! He is probably afraid of the reception he would get from the soldiers. And if he was worried about it looking like a campaign event. DON’T LET THE PRESS COME WITH YOU!
When will the Obama robots see this phony for what he is? He is nothing but canned speeches about hope and change. He wouldn’t know an original idea if jumped up and bit him on the rear. He is afraid to go on Fox News Sunday because they might ask him a tough question. He is afraid to debate McCain in an open town debate. He is afraid to admit the bravery, sacrifice, courage and performance of our troops during the surge is what made it work. And he is afraid to admit he was wrong about the surge all along. He is afraid to do anything that is not carefully scripted.

Posted by tom | Report as abusive

seems like about every ” progressive ” i talk to always makes a point about how much they care about the troops… if there are no cameras the reality is apparent. their only value is as a prop for some photo op.

Posted by s.bolivier | Report as abusive

What public event that Obama attends is NOT a political event??

Posted by Joe Egolf | Report as abusive

Gosh, Mr. & Mrs. Reader…what’s a presidential candidate to do if he can’t visit wounded members of Our Best & Finest because Mr. Gates or Admiral Mullen object…and when the candidate doesn’t make the visit, is then criticized for not doing it by his opponent’s camp?

If it had been me, I would simply have made the visit anyway. To hell with what these politicians and political generals and admirals have to say about it!

I can tell you that a wounded member of Our Best & Finest isn’t going to argue if a popular political figure comes for a visit…especially one who is going to see to it that the end soon comes for the daily risking and daily sacrificing of American lives or limbs, sight, hearing and mental & physical health for a counterinsurgency that politicians in Washington ordered or acquiesced to…even though said politicians can count many personal cowards among their own ranks…personal cowards in their youth, who let hundreds of thousands of their fellow Americans take those risks and make those sacrifices so that they (the politicians) could get an education, marry, have children and pursue successful law, corporate and political careers on into their middle age.

I could name these personal cowards, but what would be the result…personal shame…guilt perhaps? I seriously doubt it, Mr. & Mrs. Reader.

I read an article today in the NY Times which addresses the photographing and publishing of dead, wounded or dying American Soldiers, Marines, Sailors or Airmen during World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War et al.

Perhaps these photos should not be taken.

On the other hand, perhaps they should be taken…and sent directly to the personal attention of each and every member of “The 536″ who decided to send Our Best & Finest into the hornet’s nest…into the meat grinder of SW Asia…all because they wanted to show their macho or macha just prior to the 2002 congressional elections.

Frankly, I think that these photos should be required viewing over congressional and white house breakfasts each and every day that a member of Our Best & Finest falls…falls during a war that should never have been allowed to become an untenable occupation and unwinnable counterinsurgency.

I’m mad…mad as hell!

I’m sick and tired of watching and listening to these cowardly politicians who have no shame…no guilt…no personal honor…

OK Jack

P.S. It really baffles me that Mr. McCain…a man of honor…would ally himself with the personal cowards who dishonored themselves and America during the 1960′s and 1970′s. If this isn’t politics at its worse, what is?

My gosh, the military leaders said the third planned vet hospital visit would be viewed as political and so Obama respected that and decided not to be disrespectful to the wounded vets. Why do some folks feel the need to be so angry and full of so many bitter comments? It’s not that complex.

Posted by Jill | Report as abusive

Sorry, McCain crowd (hey, 3 IS a pretty good-sized crowd by McCain standards), but if you could read, you would see that the article says that Obama was advised by the Pentagon not to do the appearance, which was the only reason he cancelled it.

Posted by Friday | Report as abusive

What is with this coverage? Obama and the several people accompanying him were not permitted the visit by the Pentagon! All you haters are awfully quick to the punch… even if you dislike Obama, do you really think he’s dumb enough to cancel a visit like that unless his hand were forced?

“It was only Wednesday night, two days before the planned visit, that Pentagon officials conveyed their views, he said, and Obama decided not to go.” -AP

Posted by Beth Budwig | Report as abusive

As an active duty republican, wounded in combat, recently returned from IOF after a short stay at Landstuhl, who voted for McCain in the 2000 primary (how’s that for cred), and still undecided about who to vote for in this race, I respect Sen Obama’s decision not to go to the hospital — the disruption to work on top of the hill in Landstuhl would be great, even with a short visit on his part. There’s a lot going on, there and it’s a hard area to get in/out of; he visited the troops at the CSH in the Green Zone and all over combat theater. Am increasingly disappointed with Sen McCain’s tactics of simply responding cheaply to Obama’s every move rather than having a consistent message of his own — he comes off stiff and angry most of the time — not very presidential. Not that the Dems, on the whole, are any better, but, my party continues to dissapoint…

Posted by TX dave | Report as abusive

As a retired, disabled, combat veteran I can tell you catagorically and without exception politicians of both parties don’t really care about soldiers. Given the option of funding an earmark proposed by a wealthy contributor or buying body armor for soldiers the earmarks win every time. As someone who has dealt with the nightmare that is the VA… well, it’s all talk. SHOW me the love.

As far as which side is better; McCain and the republicans talk the loudest but as the person and party in charge their failures are more readily apparent. We (veterans) need to form a truth squad.

FACT 1: no body armor = supporting the troops how?
FACT 2: unarmored HUMVEEs = supporting the troops how?
FACT 3: substandard VA medical care = supporting the troops how?

Just a short list…

Posted by SFC Bohn (retired) | Report as abusive

While in agreement with the reception bigwigs get from troops. OK Jack takes a hell of a leap with his personal view of the war.

I spent my time as a soldier and still managed to come home to raise a family. Luck had a good deal to do with it. Each generation faces similar challenges. This generation faces a very different foe and we are in the difficult position of having to fight a war for very politically incorrect reasons–not big oil (although big oil ain’t helping us very much)– but as one culture, based on western values, against another culture, based on theocratic values.

The enemy does an excellent job of attacking our troops and our troops do an even better job of killing them, even with all the restrictions that political correctness places on their actions. We have created a gristmill, and it is unfortunate that we have done so, when all we needed to do was to use force strategically to crush the fountainheads of radical Islamism.

OK Jack has already lost the war. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the troops continue keeping the war over there, instead of at Jack’s doorstep

Posted by Charles Griffin | Report as abusive

Yes, I am sorry that Obama did not stop in at the hospital in Germany to say hello and a few words of consolation to the wounded American troops that he would never have put there in the first place if he had been President. Should Obama have gone to the hospital and said, “I would never have wanted you to be here in the hospital and you would never have had to be here if I had been President at the time of the insanity that happened in New York City with the bombing of the World Trade Towers. (The Arab terrorists participating in the bombings were mostly from Saudi Arabia, none from Iraq.) I would have consulted with America’s
Allies before taking the step of invading Iraq. I would not have turned a deaf ear to the many qualified people claiming that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction to be there included the American Ambassador to Iraq. I am trying to make it plain in my campaign that I want to end the war in Iraq as soon as possible and that I believe whole heartedly that a war begun without the full consent of the American people who have to send their children to fight it, is a war that should never have been fought by America at all.”

Posted by Carole H. | Report as abusive

Hello Mr. Griffin.

Thanks for your response. You make some good points.

However, I have never accepted sending Our Best & Finest into the meat grinder of an unwinnable occupation and counterinsurgency by politicians (and political generals who acquiesced)…just because that’s the way of it for this generation…just because it’s fate, and each generation of Our Sons & Daughters has to simply make the best of it with whatever luck comes their way.

OK Jack
Vietnam 1966-67

P.S. Kindly put the blame for an unwinnable counterinsurgency (all are) at the doorstep of the temporary occupants of the White House, Capitol & Pentagon…where it belongs–and not at mine. I mind my own doorstep and always have. It is the politicians and acquiescent brass who apparently know little about military strategy, operations & tactics.

It is really sad to see how the media and some internet bloggers are just holding their breath and pouncing on anything they perceive as negative with Obama. I am an independent and considered “main stream” demographically; even I have to say that I thought America was much larger than this kind of pettiness! Before you get on your high horse pointing fingers and “blaming” obama for not going to see the wounded soldiers in Germany why don’t you ask yourselves some logical questions and attempt to answer them honestly:
1. Would you be reacting this way if it were McCain?
2. Who so far has conducted themselves with dignity and refused consistently to get into the gutter with mud slinging and negativity
3. Obama, like all of us, is human! He made a good faith attempt to see these troops only to have the good old boys network at the Pentagon block it with their long standing “law” that limits certain military personnel/institutions from certain interactions with campaign activities. No one is applauding him for visiting the troops and wounded in the other areas he visited…why the unbalanced response?

4. Some politicians complained that he has no “experience” (ahem! longevity?)overseas, but as soon as he is a hit overseas and Europeans are flying American flags vs burning them, there is so much anger and hostility from the same people who questioned his potential to impact our overseas allies. Seriously, shouldn’t we be celebrating the fact that we are once again being supported by our former allies against terrorist forces instead of being “envious” like some of these politicians because, if you really boil it down, they are upset about the color and age of the change agent?

I suggest that all of America, the great nation that we are, take time to step out of our prejudices and judgemental attitudes and get the FACTS before condemning our fellow country people. This is a great country that was built on sacrifice from all people, let’s not propagate the divisivness and hatred that some factions would like to see us exhibit. United we stand and divided we fall. It is not about race, it has never been about race; race is a distraction just like gender, “patriotism”,sexual orientation and other media “soundbytes” that are thrown to the middle class to distract them from seeing how their hard earned money is being taxed like crazy, their jobs are being shipped overseas and their houses being foreclosed on. America, wake up! Don’t buy into petty sand box tactics!

Obama is a LIAR!!!! His only reason not to visit the troops was because he was told he could not take his groupie media people, and photographers along for a “photo op”. Therefore, there was no point of his wasting time with the wounded. If he cared, he could have gone in on his own, visited and got a firsthand glimpse of the hell we have put our men and women through.

Posted by D. Kostriken | Report as abusive

First, thanks to all my brother vets who have posted here. For the active duty service people I can only apologize for our dim witted leader who is ultimately responsible for the multiple rotations, extended stays, non equipment support, sub contractor Blackwater type cowboys who make ten times what you do and the ultimate enrichment of Cheney’s Haliburton and the oil companies. I am truly sorry you have to serve under such a terrible leader but take hope that come November a man with a brain and a vision will begin to right our country.

As far as Oabama’s hospital visit, its his right to go or not. Regardless of the neocons it means nothing in the overall picture. I believe Obama is a man of integrity who is compassionate and caring. It is sad that McBush can only cry over minor details because he knows he has nothing to offer other than warmed over Bush pie. Like an old man at the rear of an old folks home, McBush crys out nonsense to no one. He’s gone and he doesn’t even know it. RIP Republicans in November.

Posted by BushGuiltyAsSin | Report as abusive

Well thought out comments, Mr. & Mrs. Reader, should be recognized, e.g., TINA. I happened to notice hers this morning.

I’ve been reading through a photo album called “U.S. Camera 1947″ (photos and narratives). The photos were taken in 1946…the year that my OK Dad returned from Berlin to rejoin my OK Mom and two young sons. It is really fascinating to see what was going on six decades ago after the most devastating war in world history came to an atomic conclusion in the skies over Japan.

There is a photo of the hydrogen bomb test for instance…and a copy of the letter that the genius, Albert Einstein, wrote to President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 offering up the technology for developing a nuclear (atomic) bomb.

One of the most “humbling” photos is that of 5-star general of the army, Dwight D. Eisenhower, listening to a group of young wives who tracked him down to protest the fact that their husbands were still overseas one year after the conclusion of the war. Ike looks duly perplexed. It seems that he was holding up the demobilization of some 4 million members of Our Best & Finest (of 12.5 million) for occupation purposes in Europe and Asia. Congress later instructed Ike to bring most of them home, i.e., instructed President Harry S. Truman to do so.

That must have been when my father got his orders. After 3 years on active duty, he didn’t waste any time changing to civvies and getting on with his life. Unknown to him though, he would be recalled in just 4 short years because Mr. Truman committed Our Best & Finest to war on the Korean Peninsula without the consent of congress. It would take his successor, President Eisenhower, to bring the combat phase of this war to an end. Unfortunately, we’re still at war with communist N. Korea (a third of Mr. Bush’s so called axis of evil).

In “U.S. Camera 1947″, there are other photos, e.g., of displaced Veterans and their families.

I highly recommend this photo album for those who don’t realize how today’s politicians have gone to such great lengths to “reinvent the wheel.”

One would think that the U.S. voting electorate would not elect such politicians…and that these politicians would not confirm the promotion of men (or women) to general and flag officer rank unless these officers have at the very least the potential for “telling it like it is”, e.g., former army chief of staff, Eric Shinseki. Instead, America got a general officer who acquiesced, i.e., former central command head, Tommy Franks.

Therein lies the problem, Mr. & Mrs. Reader. Generation after generation of American voters are simply ignorant of history…and generation after generation of American politicians and general/flag officers simply ignore history.

OK Jack

Here’s an e-mail I received for comments!!!

Hello everyone,
I am not a very political person. I just wanted to pass along that Senator Obama came to Bagram Afghanistan for about an hour on his visit to’The War Zone’. I wanted to share with you what happened.
He got off the plane and got into a bullet proof vehicle, got to the area to meet with the Major General (2 Star) who is the commander here at Bagram.
As the Soldiers where lined up to shake his hand he blew them off and didn’t say a word as he went into the conference room to meet the General.
As he finished, the vehicles took him to the ClamShell (pretty much a big top tent that military personnel can play basketball or work out in with weights) so he
could take his publicity pictures playing basketball. He again shunned the opportunity to talk to Soldiers to thank them for their service.
So really he was just here to make a showing for the American’s back home that he is their candidate for President. I think that if you are going to make an effort to come all the way over here you would thank those that
are providing the freedom that they are providing for you.
I swear we got more thanks from the NBA Basketball Players or the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders than from one of the Senators, who wants to be the President of the United States . I just don’t understand how anyone would
want him to be our Commander-and-Chief. It was almost that he was scared to be around those that provide the freedom for him and our great country.
If this is blunt and to the point I am sorry but I wanted you all to know what kind of caliber of person he really is. What you see in the news is all fake.

In service,
CPT Jeffrey S. Porter
Battle Captain
TF Wasatch
American Soldier

Posted by Ron | Report as abusive

OBAMA WON’T GO ANYWHERE WITHOUT HIS MEDIA CAMERAS AND 300 ADVISORS — NOT EVEN TO VISIT OUR “WOUNDED” TROOPS!

I KNOW WHAT OBAMA MEANT WHEN HE PROMISED US “HOPE AND CHANGE”:

“I HOPE nobody notices how often I CHANGE my mind.”

The truth appears to be that the man had not thought out foreign policy issues before he entered the race for president.

I would like to see him confront face to face, and without a teleprompter and 300 advisors, a tough questioner on foreign policy and domestic policy for that matter.

If we were electing a teleprompter reader he would get my vote — But the country needs a man of experience — the more, the better. He is not the one. He is inexperienced on ‘most’ issues.

He has based his entire campaign on lies. He has too many ties to terrorists and anti-Americans.

I’m voting for McCain in November.

Posted by OBAMA CANCELS TRIP TO VISIT "WOUNDED" TROOPS | Report as abusive

Ms. Bohan…

I’ll give this one more shot (my second post calling this to your attention)…before I write to your editor about the fake post above by “Ron”, and your failure to screen it out of your web log. As a U.S. Veteran, I resent this kind of junk being posted on the internet. Reuters ought to know better.

The post (above) purportedly from a “battle captain” in Afghanistan is obviously fake. Did you check its authenticity before allowing it to be posted?

In the first place, this same “letter” is making the rounds on the internet without the “CPT Jeffrey S. Porter Battle Captain” phrase attached to it. There is no such thing as a “battle captain”.

Whomever “Ron” is, he/she evidently did not receive such an “email…for comments”…or added the “CPT Jeffrey S. Porter Battle Captain” phrase after finding it on the internet.

OK Jack
Former (real) captain

How many times during the primary season did Junior Senator Obama say, “I welcome that debate with John McCain”? So why does he now do everything possible to avoid the weekly town hall meetings Senator McCain kept asking for?

McCain has offered to travel with Obama and hold ten town hall meetings. Obama wants to cut it down to two meetings — to be held on Holidays! Not only is Barack Hussein Obama arrogant — he appears to be an idiot.

HE WILL MEET WITH EUROPEANS — BUT NOT WITH AMERICANS IN TOWN-HALL MEETINGS??? EUROPEANS CAN’T VOTE FOR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.

Here’s what Senator Obama’s actions say to me:

• Senator Obama is not a man of his word.

• Senator Obama does not respect voters who very much want to hear both candidates discuss the issues.

• Senator Obama REFUSED to meet with our “wounded” troops because he couldn’t take his media entourage with him.

HE IS AN EMPTY SUIT — HE WAS “SELECTED” BY THE DNC AND BIASED MEDIA. HE WAS NOT “ELECTED” BY THE PEOPLE.

McCAIN 2008.

Posted by OBAMA CANCELS TRIP TO VISIT "WOUNDED" TROOPS | Report as abusive

[...] The words coming from him struck a raw nerve for many Americans, especially following his cancellation of a visit with our military [...]

Just a quick note to let the former “Real Captain” know that he is incorrect. Battle Captain(a duty title, not an actual rank, and can be held by Officers or Senior NCOs) is the title given to the individual who oversees the Base Defense Operations Center(USAF)or Tactical Operations Center(USA). They house all Sector RTOs and Up/Down-channel all info/intel/to the respective Sector Leadership. At least that’s what this “Real MSgt” (USAF Security Forces)knows about Air Base Defense…Which was developed by the US Army…Please don’t pass yourself off as an expert, if you are not one. Some civilians may actually repeat your misinformation…P.S. Have a little respect for the rank you held by CAPITALIZING It! Two Tours in the AO and glad to go again if needed.

Posted by Nigel Johns | Report as abusive

McCain’s camp recently took the teleprompters away from him.

Didn’t hear you complaining or even mention the fact that McCain used teleprompters.

But if Obama uses a teleprompter it becomes a monument issue.

Troll!

Posted by Henry | Report as abusive

If you’re not a liberal by age 21 you have no heart, and if you’re not conservative by age 40, you have no brain.

Vote for McCain.