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Obama Blames Troop Snub On Pentagon

From ABC News:

Obama Camp Pins Scrubbed Troop Visit on Pentagon

Obama Camp says Pentagon Tried to Limit Their Planned Troop Visit in Germany; Pentagon Pushes Back

By SUNLEN MILLER

July 25, 2008 — The Obama campaign and the Pentagon are putting forth different versions of what happened before Sen. Barack Obama cancelled a planned Friday morning visit to the Ramstein air force base in Germany.

The Obama campaign has suggested the Pentagon interferred with their decision to visit U.S. troops at the Ramstein and Landstuhl U.S. military bases in Germany.

In the air flying from Berlin to Paris, Obama senior advisor Robert Gibbs spent 45 minutes speaking to the press over the course of three media availabilities in an attempt to clarify what appeared to be dueling reasons for cancelling the trip: statements both sent out last night by the campaign…

Obama senior adviser Robert Gibbs had told ABC News Thursday in a statement, “The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign.”

The McCain campaign quickly slammed Obama over his decision to cancel the visit.

“Barack Obama is wrong,” said McCain spokesman Brian Rogers Thursday. “It is never ‘inappropriate’ to visit our men and women in the military.”

Obama adviser Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration (Ret.), who liased with the Pentagon on the logistics of Obama’s trip to Afghanistan, Iraq, and Europe, later elaborated on why Obama decided to scrub the planned visit.

“We learned from the Pentagon last night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event,” Gration said Thursday. “Sen. Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go.”

But clearly smarting from criticism over the cancelled [sic] visit, the Obama campaign again attempted to clarify their reasons for cancelling [sic] the trip.

In the air flying from Berlin to Paris Friday, Gibbs spent 45 minutes spinning the press over the course of three media availabilities in an attempt to clarify what appeared to be dueling reasons for cancelling [sic] the trip: statements both sent out last night by the campaign.

Gen. Gration cited that per the Pentagon the trip would be viewed as a campaign stop. But in a second statement, Gibbs cited the reason as Obama’s feeling that it would be “inappropriate” because the campaign was funding that leg of the trip.

Gibbs attempted to clarify the contradiction on the plane Friday morning: “The statement that I sent out and the statement that Gen. Gration sent out are consistent in that what Gen. Gration learned from the Pentagon that the trip to Ramstein and Landstuhl will be viewed as a campaign stop. The decision that Sen. Obama made with that information was that we would not put our warriors in the position of being involved in a campaign stop. Therefore he made the decision not to make the stop.”

Gibbs explained the details of the planning of the visit, known as the tick tock, and suggested the Pentagon came to the Obama campaign late in the game citing a regulation issue in making the case for the Obama campaign to cancel the visit.

The campaign would not answer if Obama was denied outright from visiting the base.

Per Gibbs, Gen. Gration had been in contact with the Pentagon for three weeks during the planning of the visit. On July 15 or 16, he said the campaign received a PPR, a “prior permission required” – which was required to land a nonmilitary aircraft (Obama’s campaign plane) at an airbase in Germany.

Everything was fine until Wednesday when Gen. Gration received new information from the Pentagon, saying that this visit would be viewed as a campaign stop.

The Pentagon said Obama could visit as a senator with Illinois wounded troops but that was it. Gration dealt with the legislative affairs office within the office of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

The campaign said they too cited “a regulation” – but again would not answer if they were forbidden from visiting.

“He could go as a United States senator, but it was pretty clear from the guidance that we received from the Pentagon that the trip would be viewed as a campaign stop. Given the information that we had received Sen. Obama made the decision that we were not gonna have wounded men and women become involved in a campaign event or what would be perceived as a campaign event,” Gibbs told reporters Friday…

However the Pentagon pushed backed against the Obama campaign’s version of events.

Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman denied they tried to discourage Obama’s visit and denied the Pentagon rebuked the campaign about the appropriateness of the planned visit.

“We learned a few days ago of the interest in Sen. Obama going to Landsthul and all we did was simply remind people just to remember our longstanding guidance with respect to policital [sic] campaigns in an election year,” Whitman said, “And remind them that Sen. Obama is a sitting senator or has an interest and is welcome to visit an installation, to include something like Landstuhl, but his visit would need to be done consistent with a visit as a sitting senator.”

However Whitman noted that officials at Landstuhl were aware of DOD’s long-standing guidelines to distinguish between the visit of a sitting senator and a visit under the auspices of a political campaign.

“I think the issue here is you are both a sitting senator and a political candidate. When you are doing things like a visit to Landstuhl you need to do it in your sitting capacity or you have to do it within the restrictions that apply to any other candidate that might be running for office that is not a sitting senator,” he said, “So you have to be able to draw those distinctions. Generally speaking the miltary tries very hard not to get involved in political campaigns.”

Gee, what a surprise.

Of course the anointed one can never do any wrong. So he must blame someone else.

No change there.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, July 25th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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