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New John McCain ad spotlights Barack Obama's derailed troop visit

Barack Obama took his own shot at defusing the flap surrounding the canceled visit to a U.S. military hospital during his overseas trip. But John McCain's campaign isn't about to let the matter rest.

Indeed, the Republican elevated the contretemps to what passes for the height of political discourse these days: it's a key element in a new television ad (see video below).

The 30-second spot zings Obama for making time for a gym workout while in Germany earlier this week, but removing from his itinerary a planned stop at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The ad continues:

"Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras.

"John McCain is always there for our troops.

"McCain. Country first."

(The last line recently was unveiled on McCain's website as his....

... campaign's latest stab at settling on a simple slogan it will stick with.)

To take Obama to task more extensively over the canceled visit, McCain media aides today also issued a release from retired Lt. Col. Joe Repya, a veteran of three wars, that scolds the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee for stiffing the troops while "flitting from one European capital to the next." It concludes:

"For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks. Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn't be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes."

(No shortage of none-too-subliminal messages in those two sentences.)

Obama gave his version of the confusing chain of events that led to the cancellation in an interview that aired today with Fox News Channel's Bill Hemmer. Asked by Hemmer about "taking heat" for the nixed visit and whether it was a mistake not to make the stop, Obama replied:

"Well no, not at all. It was scheduled, we intended to go and we got wind that there was some concern that this might be perceived as political; because we were using campaign resources. And at that point, the last thing I wanted to do is to in any way distract the terrific work that’s being done in terms of treating our troops, by getting it fouled up by a bunch of politics. ... I didn’t want it to be a distraction.”

But that's exactly what it's become for Obama, and it may linger -- one can assume that McCain allies periodically will play the "he-stiffed-the-troops" card.

The various explanations seem to come down to crossed signals between Obama's staff and Pentagon officials. Bottom line: Having put the visit on the candidate's schedule, the vaunted Obama campaign team stumbled in not making sure he made good on the commitment.

-- Don Frederick

Comments () | Archives (52)

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This is an outrageous ad and attack by McCain. But I find it equally outrageous that the media continues to hint that the Obama campaign's explanations are not true. Do you think they could come up with one alternative explanation for why he wouldn't go? Its pretty clear that the Bush Pentagon set the Obama campaign up for a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-don't. They clearly where prepared to attack Obama for campaigning with the injured troops if he went. Also why not point out that the Pentagon only told the Obama campaign about their concerns the night before leaving no time for alternative planning?

Nowhere in the blog post is the fact that the McCain campaign is lying through its teeth that Obama will not visit troops unless cameras are present. He has done so in Walther Reed, and he did so while in Iraq. In fact, the footage from the ad that shows Obama playing bball was from Kuwait, when he visited the troops there. Because the purported troop visit was never on the media travel list, he had never planned for the media to be there. What happened is the Bush Pentagon told the Obama campaign just a few days before the event that it could not come unless he didn't have the General with him.

That's just about the _lamest_ attack ad I've ever seen. Smacks of desperation.

Let us not forget that McCain was the second choice to the worst president in recent history. Can we really take a chance with McCain? How bad does it have to be before we realize his approach does not work?

Why don't you report the whole story. Stop carrying McCain's water!

Obama was basically trapped by a dirty trick. He received notice 24 hours before the visit that he could not bring campaign staff to the military base (what rule is that??) and his senate staff had left.

If you're going to comment on the story, carry both sides.

Under the Hatch Act and similar restrictions on military members, government employees cannot engage in political partisan activity. Barack Obama during his time in Germany was at least arguably engaging in campaign events of a nature different from the congressional (non-campaign) visit he paid to Iraq and Afghanistan. Therefore, even if he wanted to argue that his visit to the base was not political, government employees such as military members would be in a difficult situation in figuring out whether their participation in events with Obama was a violation of policy. The Pentagon statement to Obama reflected that functional divide with respect to purpose and inflected a note of caution into any decision Obama might make.

So, if McCain is elected, he will NOT meet with European leaders or stand in front of cheering crowds? The pathos of John McCain and his handlers is embarrassing. It would be great to have a president who is actually loved as much as the real United States - our culture, our spirit, our real gifts - is by our friends and allies around the world. And Obama is likable, GOPers, like it or not. Who wants another curmudgeonly, uptight, self-righteous president?

Lets think of the wavering millions
Who need leaders
but get gamblers instead.
- Salt of the Earth (Rolling Stones)

This is a big, negative story for Obama. It's funny how Obama media apologists like Chris Matthews didn't even mention this bungled non-event in the lead to his show. I suppose he was still dealing with that tingle up his leg.

John McCain will lose this election, because all he can do is attack Barack Obama. As well he should.

This isn't 2000, when McCain's insurgent candidacy against George Bush was scuttled by similar lies orchestrated by Karl Rove. It worked then. But it won't work now.

It's obvious that John McCain has nothing to say about himself - he's just the "Anti-Obama," an old man with tired old ideas that have been proven NOT to work. A tired, grumpy old man with no vision and no future.

So all he can do is follow Rove's old script.

McCain deserves to lose. And he will.

If this is the best that McCain and his people can come up with, then it's game, set, match Democrats. Honestly, this entire article was simply pathetic.

John MCain's rantings remind me of the old Mr. Magoo. Maybe he should change his name to Mr. McGoo. He wanted Obama to go to Europe, now is unhappy because it did not work the way he expected...

Is this really what our country has come down too? Fighting over whether or not a scheduling conflict constitutes snubbing troops?

Gosh, no wonder we are slipping as a country, this is actually what we consider to be part of the discourse with becoming POTUS? Obama DID visit troops in Iraq, Obama DID schedule a visit to see the troops in Germany.

The word is jingoism people. Don't let hyper-nationalism once again take the place of good sense. McCain really is just a re-hash of Bush, who will go down as the worst POTUS in history. Why on earth would we ever elect ANOTHER war-mongering out of touch person to run this country because they managed to head fake people into believing the other guy wasn;t "patriotic" enough?

Flag pins and cancelled troop visits should not be how we choose a leader in these troubled times. The last time it was "the guy we could have a beer with" and look where that got us, two wars, two recessions, and a whole lot of not-good stuff.

So Obama was supposed to go ahead with an event after someone at the Pentagon expressed reservation that the visit at the hospital might not be appropriate? If he had gone ahead with the visit would the Republicans criticize him for ignoring concern that the event might not be appropriate? Is this one of these cases that he would be criticized no matter what he did?

Not visiting the troops was an extremly stupid thing to do on the part of the Obama campaign. Obama is your typical genious (I beleive his IQ is up there if you beleive the rumors).

With any smart person they dont screw up often but when they's HUGE.

he was already in a damned if you do, damned if you dont position and he chooses NOT to visit the troops? nd now a Conservative GOP boot licking pentagon is saying they wouldnt let him bring cameras so he left?


I''m an Obama supporter but when this guy screws up he goes allll the way lol

Well, kids, so much for McCain running a "respectful" campaign on the "issues" and wonderful to have a willing press to play along in the pig slop.

McCain is stooping really low in this ad. Obama met with troops in Iraq and only canceled his trip because the Pentagon had concerns. So much for McCain staying away from attack ads. Hopefully, the American people will not fall for this and other ads that do not focus on the issues.

More bald faced lies from the McCain campaign. Obama voted to support our veterans. He voted to provide comfort to our veterans. McCain, time and time again has voted against our veterans. For McCain to come out and try to act like Obama doesn't support our troops is not only disingenuous ... it is a lie. This is Bush/Rove/McCain politics at its worst.

McCain is fully using injured soldiers in Germany for political gain now.

Shame on you, McCain!

The Republicans are reaching for anything they can to discredit Mr. Obama. The process, tactics and decision making reveals a lot about the people around Mr. McCain and McCain himself and I would think the American people would have had enough of this from the Bush team.
It is a damned if you do or damned if you don't tactic that speaks to a very underhanded approach to character.
If that is what being genuine is all about then Mr. McCain needs to take some 101 character education classes.
We need more people in leadership like Obama who are willing to take the high ground.

After reading this story on John McCain's new commercial dissing Obama's botched visit with American troops in Germany , I thought to myself, "So that bit about McCain not supporting that new GI Bill expansion was JUST an anomaly ( huh?" Nope. The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave this man who's always there for the troops a grade of "D". This man who supports the troops got a 20 percent vote rating from the Disabled Veterans of America while Obama got an 80 percent vote rating. Vietnam Veterans of America noted McCain had “voted against us” in 15 “key votes.” One need not to visit the troops in order to prove that he supports the troops.

I am sick of hearing from McCain and any Lt. Col. he can pull out of the woodwork that the interest of our nation and this world seem to rise and set on the constant acknowedgement of the US military. We have been "SURGED" into ad nauseum by McCain!!! Mr. Obama would have been damned if he had visited those wounded troops just as he is being damned because he did`nt. It is a no win situation with the McCain campaign.

This is irrelevent to leading our country. If Obama wanted he could make a much bettter point than McCain by pointing out that McCain did not vote for the recent GI rights bill.
This smacks of desperation in my opinion, as Obama showed that he would be a far more popular ( and therefor influential leader) on the world stage.

If anything depresses me about this campaign it's the descent of McCain's image now that his rhetoric has sunk to the level of the Republican smears used during the Bush 1 and 2 elections. Poor John knows very well that the GOP did all they could to throw roadblocks in the way of Obama's visit to the troops. The notion that he didn't go because no media could accompany him is pure well as a vicious lie. With Kings and Prime Ministers standing in line for the chance of a photo-op with him Obama needs news coverage like any of us needs a migraine headache. If McCain, by his own claim,"Knows how to win wars" why is one of the most powerful men in the Senate talking about another 100 years war ? When I was a kid vaudeville performers who bombed in front of an audience used to wrap themselves in an American flag and prance across the stage. The applause was for the flag NOT for the ham actor. Shame on you John. We expected better of you.

Excuse me! If it weren't for John McCain, there wouldn't BE all the wounded troops to visit.

Los Angeles Times
U.S. military authorities told advisors to Barack Obama this week that he could not bring press or campaign staff on a visit to wounded troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at a hospital in Germany, a Pentagon spokesman said Friday.

After advisors learned of the restriction, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee canceled his scheduled visit Friday to the military's Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in southern Germany.
So if Obama can't take his campaign and the media in to get big pictures then he determines the troops are not worth a visit.

Just like Obama, he is just for the glitter & glamor.

Obama was obviously more interested in the cameras and coverage than in the soldiers. Should McCain take advantage of it? Probably not. Personally I reckon the message is already clear enough. The real substance of any leader is in what he does when there are no cameras.

Remember McCain uses the same Bush playbook. Nothing new, he is senile and doesn't have anything to offer but his credentials as a war hero. I am sorry, but I do not go to the supermarket with that, and do not put gas in may car with that either. Obama was set up by Bush and the Pentagon. Same old tricks.

It amuses me that John McCain and his campaign staff are so incompetent, they could actually bring themselves to use the troops for political leverage in an advertisement designed to attempt to cast a negative light on Obama for trying to use the troops for political leverage.

This is obviously a setup. Had he gone, they'd have used it against him. That he respectfully opted out due to the Pentagon obviously being concerned and making concerns known about his visit, they try to attack him anyway.

John McCain is clearly the wrong direction for America.

Is America no longer a civilized democratic society ? Guess it has turned into a fascist military society., according to the media and Mc Cain.

RDL 5PM you actually stated the problem with Obama and you don't even realize it.

If McCain is elected he will meet with leaders in Europe in front of cheering crowds, but right now he is running for president so he will wait until after he is elected to do that.

Obama is ahead of himself and people as well as yourself have noticed that.

how about the fact that McCain supported a war that totally mislead the troops into harm's way?

The funny thing is that Obama was wrong about the Iraq war in a fundamental way, he wanted to end it before we won it. Now we have won it and he can't figure out how to deal with that fact. McCain was for the surge from the start, and he has been proven right. Obama was for a 16 month retreat several years ago when it meant we would be defeated, and he is for it now when it would mean that we would throw away all the benefits of standing firm.
Obama is an empty suit, he has done nothing, been nothing, and yet he is proclaimed to be a presidential candidate. He is a man that has chosen to surround himself with hateful bigots, his church displays a sick sort of hate served on a weekly basis. His wife can't remember a time she was proud of America. He isn't a man I would trust with anything of value, and he definitely isn't a man worthy of becoming a governor, let alone a president.
And yet, though he may be Jimmy Carter II, though he may be a clueless socialist with ideas that will damage America in a fundamental way, it may be worth it to elect an African American to the highest post in the US. There are real benefits to proving the egalitarian nature of the US, even if the man elected is a loser.

I wrote stinging remarks about Barack's trip several days ago, he has somehow managed to top himself.

Obama wouldn't have to visit wounded troops in Germany if McCain would have exercised better judgment about getting the country involved in Iraq in the first place. How disingenuous!

It's not an attack to point out when your opponent is inept - especially if the news media won't. The mainstream media continues to treat Obama the way a doting father teaching a 5 year old to play baseball: patiently putting up slow easy pitch after slow easy pitch - praying to God that he hits the next one out of the park and shows promise of a major league career someday.

Wow, Senator McCain skips the Senate vote on the new GI bill, and has the gall to call his opponent un-supportive of the troops. Who's he trying to kid?

Obama could have visited as sitting senator without his campaign staffs and cameras. But he wouldn't waste his valuable campaign opportunities on wounded troops. It's a lot more important to hear cheers from Germans who according to the latest polls 64% of them don't like Americans.

Mccain supporters. What constitutes success in Iraq?If its based on the surge, well those organizations were paid not to hurt our troops so of course there was "success". Either way our troops will come home with honor and dignity because they did they job they were told to do. in other words they handled the cards they were dealt. No matter how raggedy they were. So really Obamas position has been the same. Troop withdrawl in 16 months regardless of whether or not the surge worked. Obama always said there are no good options left and that we'd be as careful getting just as we were careless getting in. Bush is just finally ready to get out and wouldnt it just be a surprise that hes ready to get out when Obama goes to Iraq.I say that he just proves Obamas point. He'll be a great president!!

Where was John McCain.
How long did we wait to hear about the horrible conditions at Walter Reed?
Was it 2005 or 2006 when finally a Washington Post report exposed the miserable conditions at the nation's primary stateside troop care hospital. I think other news sources also reported, not only on WR, but also care or lack of it in other facilities.

The important point is that it wasn't John McCain exposing the horror of the troop and VA medical system.

John McCain is a major senator and could have called the people at Walter Reed and in the Bush VA system to account many years before the Washington Post broke the story. He says he visits the troops often.

Didn't he care what was happening to our wounded troops and veterans?

Really, where was he and why did he leave our ailing troops to suffer without making sure that conditions were improved?

Reality shows that the McCain Camp is full of liars.

After all Johnboy relies on two important propagandameisters from Bush's 2000 and 2004 campaigns, Charlie (lobbied for Myanmar/Burma) and Steve "The Hammer" Schmidt (who also helped run the nasty recall campaign of Arnold Schwarzenegger.

This is an area where I think McCain is flatly wrong. He has voted time and time again against looking after our veterans. In doing so, he has not only voted against our veterans and but he has voted against the families of our veterans. These people, who have already sacrified SO MUCH, are having to pick up the slack while the government of the Country that they served and committed their lives to shirks its responsibilities to our veterans. It is UNBELIEVABLE that John McCain is now trying to act like OBAMA is the one who doesn't care about our troops. It was OBAMA that voted to support our Veterans. Yet here's McDeFame running negative TV ads flatly out LYING about Obama's motives. Obama met with the troops. In Iraq. In Afghanistan.

Of course, had the Bush administration's interference with Obama's visit with the troops in Germany had not occurred, Obama would have met with the troops in Germany as well. It's not like the Pentagon didn't know Obama was coming. This reeks of Bush telling the Pentagon to spring a trap on Obama at the last minute. Meanwhile, McCain is set up to call Obama names over it. Like I said earlier ... this name-calling is coming from a man who has voted against our Veterans time and time again. It is flat out IMMORAL what Bush, Rove, Schmidt, McCain and the bunch are trying to pull here. But this is the ground that they live to tread on. They relish it. They are expert at slime warfare.

In the business world, Bush, Rove, Schmidt, Cheney, and now McCain would be known as Corporate Raiders. They take over a company and do unspeakable things to it. Only here, instead of a corporation, it is our Country that is being hi-jacked by Rove, Scmidt, McCain, Bush, etc. And with their brand of character smears and distortions, they hope to do more unspeakable things to our Nation into the foreseeable future. Its high time we recognize these bloodsuckers and stop the bloodsucking.

What really happened on Obama's journey overseas was that he won the respect and the support of leaders in Iraq, Israel, Germany, and France and he spoke to 200,000 Germans who were wildly cheering for Obama's proposals. Barack Obama has demonstrated the skill and leadership to win over the support of huge audience time and time again. Isn't it Leadership that being President of the United States is all about. . We live in a world with global problems where global cooperation is needed to solve them. International Terrorism, The Environment, The Economy. We need a leader who can reach out globally and win the support and cooperation of our Neighbors. When judging the Leadership of Obama and McCain ... it is clear that Obama is the more effective leader. While McCain may claim that his military experience makes him a better leader than OBama, take a look through your eyes. Images of Obama with widespread, enthusiastic support are everywhere. McCain ... not so much.

This is a familiar right-wing tactic, using the sacrifices of American men and women in uniform to manipulate emotions and cast aspersions on the patriotism and sincerity of opponents. They've used it in some form or another in just about every election in my lifetime, sometimes effectively, sometimes not.

This instance is likely to fall flat. It's clear that a visit was scheduled, then cancelled in response to Pentagon concerns. And most people I know are very tired of having their patriotism manipulated in this and similar ways.. They know such manipulation contributed to the mess in Iraq, and are more leery and resistant now than in the past.

What I am really wondering about is this - Obama won the nomination by saying he is against war, now he is staring TWO new wars? How come all those whos support Obama, all the anti-war folks, don't really mind if now there are two wars instead of one? Actually there will be THREE, Obama will leave troops in Iraq, and then he will go into Afghanistan and Pakistan!!!

So why is three wars by Obama better than one by McCain?

I am really perplexed. Can anyone please help? I am an independent.

OBAMA LOGO? Isin't everyone shocked? That obama painted HIS logo over the US logo on his campaign plane? Doesn't this show strong lack of patriotism?

the 'war on terror' was called out as an excuse not only for unscrupulous 'leaders' to enrich themselves, physically 'sacrificing' hundreds of thousands of people, to steal the wealth of whole nations. but the underlying cause is to create false reasons, to herd together the nations of the world, to be enslaved and ruled by one global tyranny. all the candidates hand-picked and groomed to represent the worst of choices, do not qualify to run for office. there's no merit in winning if it means to lose your country. there's no merit in winning if it means to lose your freedom. and your freedom is what this is all about. and what the idea of america is all about.
freedom, and the pursuit of happiness. without freedom happiness cannot exist.

Obama could have visited the soldiers with his Senate staff and not his campaign staff. He knew this. Obama then lied and said the Pentagon denied him access. When that story didn't work it evolved . Obama is an expert at the evolving story. Like the Rev Wright story.

Obama was dead wrong on this issue and lied. Those of you who are trying to make dishonest excuses are pathetic. Obama blew it and he is now trying to cover his ass with SPIN.

McCain is playing typical Republican and look where the
last one has gotten us.


Thank you McCain for bringing to light another example of the Obama "What's in it for me" leadership principle.

Obama obviously thought it was waste of time if cameras were not allowed while visiting wounded troops. Cool, calculated decision.....just happened his version of event is not passing credibility so many other of his missteps

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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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