Opinion: Barack Obama’s big foreign trip a secret at home, well-known abroad

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While the Barack Obama Democratic presidential campaign keeps the dates of its upcoming international trip a tightly-guarded secret from American voters, details are leaking out elsewhere in the world.

The Obama campaign announced late last month that the candidate would travel to Israel and Jordan in the Middle East and Britain, France and Germany in Europe.

The campaign had already disclosed plans to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan, though it has left unclear whether the trip to the war zones will be included in the same international trip.

It’s all kind of a required element of any American presidential campaign for the two parties’ nominees to be seen in foreign locales with foreign leaders. Such trips, of course, prove nothing about their qualifications to run anything other than a travel agency but look great on TV during a slow summer of reruns.


Sen. John McCain has visited Iraq numerous times during his efforts to change strategy there and this year has already toured the Middle East, Europe, and visited Canada, Colombia and Mexico.

(UPDATE: Cindy McCain, who last month traveled to Vietnam as part of an international relief effort, said Monday she will travel to Rwanda for four days next week as part of a USAID hospital-orphanage group. The Obama campaign says it is sending former senator Tom Daschle instead of Michelle Obama.)

Obama is somewhat behind the travel curve, having been preoccupied much of the spring with denying the Clintons their White House inheritance by visiting such exotic locales as Bloomington, Ind., Butte, Mont. and Sioux City, er, no, wait, Sioux Rapids, no, it was Sioux Falls but he called it Sioux City.

Obama’s never been to Afghanistan, where he wants more U.S. troops, and in 2005 last saw Iraq, where he wants less U.S. troops, though the timing of the withdrawals seems to have gotten a little fuzzy recently.

So the former state senator has got some frequent flyer miles to rack up and lots of photos to take before his party’s convention in late August. Reports in foreign media now suggest the Obama trip is scheduled for late July.

The French news agency Agence France-Press reports French President Nicolas Sarkozy will meet with Obama at the Elysee Palace on Friday July 25. In Israel, Obama is expected to arrive on Tuesday July 22 or Wednesday July 23 for a two- or three-day visit to include a meeting with embattled Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, according to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

The German magazine Der Spiegel says the Obama campaign is considering a major speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the site of a famous 1987 Ronald Reagan speech.

Our Swamp colleague Mike Dorning has more details here.

--Andrew Malcolm