Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are taking the U.S. presidential campaign overseas. McCain is visiting Colombia and Mexico this week, and Obama announced over the weekend plans to travel to Britain, France, Germany, Israel, and Jordan in July. Obama is also planning to travel to Iraq and Afghanistan this summer. (The Christian Science Monitor)
What the commentators said
Colombia and France are hardly battleground states, said John Harwood in The New York Times’ The Caucus blog, but “votes can be won there.” Meeting with foreign leaders and giving speeches on the international stage gives candidates a “gravitas” that reassures U.S. voters. Obama needs to reassure voters more than McCain does, McCain can’t afford to cede one of his “few political advantages.”
“Things are slipping away for McCain” in the election, said Craig Crawford in Congressional Quarterly’s Trail Mix blog, and if he’s fishing for a winning tactic, acting presidential abroad may be a loser. Voters are more interested in bread-and-butter issues this year, and “the ‘I’m-already-president’ routine” hardly worked for Hillary Clinton. Maybe McCain figures “he can’t win anyway and will just pretend for a while.”
McCain has more than looking statesmanlike in mind on his trip south, said Chuck Todd, Mark Murray, and Domenico Montanaro in MSNBC’s First Read blog. He’s also wooing Hispanic voters, a group with which “McCain has strong credentials.” He’s losing them to Obama because of the GOP’s “anti-immigration crusade,” but traveling to Latin America will help by getting “him lots of coverage in America’s Spanish-language media.”
With McCain’s clear advantage in foreign policy leadership, said Gregor Peter Schmitz in Germany’s Der Spiegel, Obama’s trip to the Middle East will be especially important for his campaign. But Obama is extremely popular in Europe, and “pictures of him alongside European leaders” can’t help but make him look more presidential, too.
The McCain-Obama matchup is “not a traveling roadshow to be shared with foreigners,” said David Ignatius in The Washington Post, but the world “cares passionately about where America is heading,” so maybe it should be. The two candidates should consider Dubai’s offer to host a presidential debate. Iraq, Iran, and Mideast policy are a big part of this election, so why not debate them in the region?