Obama's Rock Star Tour Begins, Complete With All Star Anchor Crew
Senator John McCain's trip to Iraq last spring was a low-key affair: With his ordinary retinue of reporters following him abroad, the NBC News anchor Brian Williams reported on his arrival in Baghdad from New York, with just two sentences tacked onto the "in other political news" portion of his newscast.
But when Obama heads for Iraq and other locations overseas this summer, Williams is planning to catch up with him in person, as are the other two evening news anchors, Charles Gibson of ABC and Katie Couric of CBS, who, like Williams, are far along in discussions to interview Obama on successive nights.
And while the anchors are jockeying for interviews with Obama at stops along his route, the regulars on the Obama campaign plane will have new seat mates: star political reporters from the major newspapers and magazines who are flocking to catch Obama's first overseas trip since becoming the presumptive nominee of his party.
The extraordinary coverage of Obama's trip reflects how the candidate remains an object of fascination in the news media, a built-in feature of being the first African-American presidential nominee for a major political party and a relative newcomer to the national stage.
But the coverage also feeds into concerns in McCain's campaign, and among Republicans in general, that the media is imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates, just as aides to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton felt during the primary season.
WOW! I never saw the news Anchor's accompany McCain! And he's been to Iraq and Afghanistan Umpteen times!! If this doesnt prove the MSM is in the Tank for Obama I dont know what does!
It's The Obama Show!
Barack Obama began his campaign-season tour of two war zones Saturday by meeting with U.S. forces stationed in Kuwait and Afghanistan, where Obama says more military resources must be devoted.
The presumptive Democratic nominee arrived in Kabul early Saturday as part of an official, taxpayer-funded congressional delegation. It was his first-ever visit to Afghanistan.
Details out of the war zone are sparse, but officials say Obama visited troops at an airfield in Jalalabad, in the eastern part of the country. He heads next to Iraq.
The Illinois senator announced his plans to tour the war zones after facing criticism from John McCain and Republicans for not visiting since becoming a presidential candidate. McCain has been to Iraq eight times, and last traveled there in March.
Obama told a pair of reporters who accompanied him to his departure from Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday that, “I look forward to seeing what the situation on the ground is.
“I want to, obviously, talk to the commanders and get a sense both in Afghanistan and in Baghdad of, you know, what the most, their biggest concerns are, and I want to thank our troops for the heroic work that they’ve been doing,” he said.
Obama arrived in Afghanistan after meeting with U.S. troops in Kuwait at Camp Arifjan, the main U.S. military base in Kuwait and gateway for U.S. soldiers heading into and out of Iraq.
Lt. Col. Bill Nutter, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Kuwait, said, “He talked to soldiers and constituents and met with senior military leadership.”
During the two-hour visit, Nutter said, the officers gave him an overview of operations. Obama shook hands, answered questions, posed for photos and played a little basketball during the visit.
Sultan Ahmad Baheen, spokesman for Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry, said Saturday that Obama would meet with President Hamid Karzai. Obama recently chided Karzai and his government, saying it had “not gotten out of the bunker” and helped to organize the country or its political and security institutions.
McCain, in his radio address released Saturday, criticized Obama for announcing his strategy for both countries before departing on his “fact-finding mission” abroad.
“Apparently, he’s confident enough that he won’t find any facts that might change his opinion or alter his strategy. Remarkable,” McCain said in the address.
Also on Obama’s itinerary later in the trip is a meeting with Nouri al-Maliki, the Iraqi leader. On the campaign trail, Obama has said one benefit of withdrawing U.S. troops is that it would pressure al-Maliki to shore up his government as well.
Nonetheless, he said he did not plan to reiterate those messages in person.
“I’m more interested in listening than doing a lot of talking, and I think it’s very important to recognize that I’m going over there as a U.S. senator,” he said. “We have one president at a time.”
Traveling with Obama were Sens. Chuck Hagel, a Nebraska Republican and Jack Reed, a Democrat from Rhode Island. The senators, both military veterans, have been mentioned as potential Obama vice presidential running mates, but Reed has said he’s not interested in the job. A top staffer to Delaware Sen. Joe Biden, another potential running mate, was also accompanying the group.
Obama also arranged to visit Jordan, Israel, Germany, France and England, traveling aboard a jet chartered by his presidential campaign, before his return to the United States. The weeklong trip marks his only foreign excursion as a presidential candidate; McCain has visited Canada, Colombia and Mexico, in part to highlight Obama’s opposition to trade deals with those allies.
Few citizens in impoverished Afghanistan were aware of Obama’s unannounced visit, and few have been following the U.S. presidential race.
Oh Goodie!! Are we going to get to see the Messiah Obama part the Red Sea as well? What an escapade! Just another Media hyped Photo Op!