He’s right, and for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is the unrest in the Middle East. One would think that an American head of state would take advantage of a UN meeting to grab some quality time with leaders in the region and try to hammer out some support. Instead, Barack Obama will be on The View — and the RNC is making sure everyone knows it:
NBC’S CHUCK TODD: “Meanwhile, today the president comes to New York for the United Nations General Assembly where he delivers his speech tomorrow but won’t have a single one-on-one meeting with a world leader on his schedule. Not anybody. This is about a do-no-harm trip and his aides don’t want any unexpected news. Republicans are already making hay of the president making time to tape the View today. He will also deliver a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. Obama campaign senior advisor Robert Gibbs was pushed about this schedule on Fox News.”
OBAMA CAMPAIGN ADVISOR ROBERT GIBBS: “We have schedules. Leaders have schedules. In many cases those schedules aren’t going to overlap.”
FOX NEWS’ CHRIS WALLACE: “But he has time for Whoopi Goldberg but he doesn’t have time for world leaders?”
GIBBS: “No, Chris look, the president is going to be actively involved at the U.N. General Assembly.”
TODD: “The White House also argues that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice will hold meetings. But folks it is odd to have a president come to the United Nations and not have any bilaterals. Granted it is a campaign year, but still odd considering what’s going on in the Middle East.”
First, kudos to Chuck Todd, who did better than his own network and most of the others in pointing out the problems Obama has on foreign policy. The Sunday talk shows all avoided the subject except for Fox, where Chris Wallace peppered Robert Gibbs on the issue. Just three weeks ago, Obama and the Democrats wanted to make foreign policy a central theme in the election, and the media was happy to cover that strategy … as long as it played well for the White House. Suddenly, we have a dead ambassador, a huge intel loss, and embassies on fire throughout the Muslim world, and all of a sudden the media wants to talk about the economy.
The decision to snub world leaders is even more curious, given the easy optics for Obama. Incumbent presidents have a tremendous prestige advantage in re-election campaigns, which only get enhanced by public têtes-aux-têtes with other heads of state. The fact that the White House is avoiding these opportunities tells you all you need to know about their confidence in foreign policy as a winning issue for Obama in this election now.
Update: I edited the headline after I saw some comments that thought “kind of” was a quote. It’s not; that was just a little headline snark, but I took it out to avoid further confusion.