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July 26, 2008

Obama Addresses Reason For Skipping Visit With Wounded Troops In Germany

Obama says once the military said his political advisers couldn't come with him, the campaign realized the visit might be viewed as a political stunt, even if he went alone and without press.

"We had scheduled to go, we had no problem at all in leaving, we always leave press and staff off -- that is why we left it off the schedule. We were treating it in the same way we treat a visit to Walter Reed which I was able to do a few weeks ago without any fanfare whatsoever. I was going to be accompanied by one of my advisors, a former military officer."

Continued Obama, "And we got notice that he would be treated as a campaign person, and it would therefore be perceived as political because he had endorsed my candidacy but he wasn’t on the Senate staff. That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political. And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these wonderful institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not or get caught in the crossfire between campaigns."

According to a story by NBC that 'former military officer' is retired Major General Jonathan S. Gration.

Pentagon officials say Gration was the campaign's point of contact at Landstuhl in arranging Obama's visit and "got torqued" when he was told he would not be permitted to join Obama. It was Gration who later suggested to reporters that the Pentagon short-circuited Obama's visit.

So, did a retired General's hissy fit lead to Obama canceling the trip? The military maintains they were more than happy to host the Senator so long as no one from his campaign was there. That's apparently the way they've handled visits by other candidates. Obama has made visits like this before so why suddenly did this one become so different?


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posted by DrewM. at 10:12 AM

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