Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama scrubbed a planned visit to see wounded American servicemen and women in Germany after Pentagon objections that the stop at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center could be seen as a political event, according to Obama's campaign.
Although the Illinois senator visited troops in Afghanistan and Iraq on the first part of his overseas trip, those stops were part of an official Congressional delegation, and therefore deemed apolitical. The European tour, which included a speech in Berlin last night before an enthusiastic crowd of 200,000, is funded by the campaign and as such is not official government business.
"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," retired Air Force Major General Scott Gration, an Obama adviser, said in a statement.
"We learned from the Pentagon [Wednesday] night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event. Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event...and decided instead not to go."
This is the price you pay for being too successful--did the Pentagon bow to pressure from the Republican Party and throw a spanner in the works so that the stories of his visit with wounded troops wouldn't bookmark his visit to Germany? The flyers for the Berlin event had the visit printed on them but the Obama campaign said the flyers were incorrect because the decision to cancel had been a last minute decision. The McCain campaign quickly denounced the move, almost seeming to have a ready-made smear in hand:
The spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said Thursday that Obama made his decision out of respect for the servicemen and women, but Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign immediately criticized the move.
"Barack Obama is wrong. It is never inappropriate to visit our men and women in the military," said Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the Republican contender.
Pretty clever for an off-the-cuff remark, since the cancellation happened at the last minute. And, no, the press wasn't going with Obama, Hagel and Reed to the medical facility--that had already been decided.
What isn't clear is whether or not we can expect the Pentagon to continue working alongside the McCain campaign.
UPDATE: Brandon Friedman at Vote Vets has more.