Jill Hazelbaker, communications director for the John McCain campaign, told Fox News today that Barack Obama intended on conducting unprecedented campaign rallies during his upcoming trip to Europe and the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hazelbaker seems to have forgotten a few foreign trips by McCain himself when making this charge:
Well, Senator Obama is visiting Iraq and Afghanistan. I found it interesting that he released his plan for the way forward in Iraq and Afghanistan prior to visiting the region or talking with any of the commanders on the ground. Let’s drop the pretense that this is a fact-finding trip and call it what it is: the first of its kind campaign rally overseas.
This may have been a great point to make — before McCain traveled to Canada, Mexico, and Colombia to make major policy speeches in the last few weeks. In fact, in Canada, McCain made the point of standing firmly behind NAFTA as a rebuke to Obama’s NAFTA dancing during the primaries. In Colombia, he spoke in support of the free-trade pact that Obama and the Democrats in Congress oppose. The visits in all three countries clearly related to his presidential campaign, just as Obama’s trip to Europe also does.
Perhaps the bigger complaint will be that Obama will be making public speeches in venues more suited for rallies. If so, that’s a pretty thin distinction. And complaining that Obama will be more popular in Europe and attract bigger crowds sounds more like sour grapes than a legitimate question about politicizing foreign relations abroad.
Maybe McCain’s campaign would do better by pointing out the hypocrisy of the supposedly objective media in their planned coverage for the Obama trip. Otherwise, this is sauce for the gander. If McCain can travel abroad to conduct his campaign, then they have little complaint about Obama following that precedent.