The campaign held a midday conference call to fill in a few more details about the upcoming trip.
One bit of not-entirely-surprising news: No Brandenburg Gate. Obama aide Denis McDonough said the candidate felt that it would be “too presumptuous” to give the only major address of the trip from the spot where Ronald Reagan had so famously called for Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall. Spokesman Robert Gibbs brushed back a suggestion that this event would be a campaign rally, saying the speech will be a substantive one about the state of European-American relations. So where will it be? They are still not saying, insisting that a number of sites are under consideration.
Adviser Susan Rice, steering around another touchy issue, noted: “It is not our intent to make policy or negotiate. … There is only one President of the United States at any one given time, and we will certainly honor and respect that.” The advisers insisted that this is not a “political trip” (at least, as they choose to define it) and said that a number of substantive issues will be discussed. Among them: non-proliferation; counterterrorism; energy security; climate change and regional security.
The campaign also provided a fuller list than we have seen to date of the foreign leaders with whom Obama will be meeting. They include: British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative Party Leader David Cameron; German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier; French President Nicolas Sarkozy. In Israel, he will meet with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu. And in Ramallah, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad.