NBC’s Jim Miklaszewski and Courtney Kube get the skinny on the abrupt cancellation of Barack Obama’s visit to Landstuhl and Ramstein yesterday. The campaign tried to excuse it by claiming that it wouldn’t be appropriate to visit while on a campaign-funded portion of his trip, but that wasn’t the real problem. When Obama found out he couldn’t use the visit as a photo op, he canceled:
One military official who was working on the Obama visit said because political candidates are prohibited from using military installations as campaign backdrops, Obama’s representatives were told, “he could only bring two or three of his Senate staff member, no campaign officials or workers.” In addition, “Obama could not bring any media. Only military photographers would be permitted to record Obama’s visit.”
The official said “We didn’t know why” the request to visit the wounded troops was withdrawn. “He (Obama) was more than welcome. We were all ready for him.”
In fact, those same rules applied for the CODEL trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. They serve to keep politicians from exploiting military facilities for political reasons, and to ensure that all visitors get treated fairly. Andrea Mitchell, also of NBC, complained of this very issue during the earlier visits with the troops when she told Chris Matthews that the media couldn’t get access to Obama when visiting troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
This makes the decision track very clear. Obama and his team set up the visits to military installations before going overseas. After seeing how the media got excluded in Iraq and Afghanistan, they decided it wasn’t worth traveling to Ramstein and Landstuhl to visit the severely wounded troops because they couldn’t bring the campaign and get the photo ops they wanted. Instead, Obama went shopping in Berlin.
As I wrote yesterday, that’s certainly a revealing set of priorities for a man who wants to lead these troops as Commander in Chief.