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Merkel Chides Obama for 'Electioneering' Abroad

Supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama hold balloons in front of the Brandenburg Gate during the opening festivities of the new U.S. Embassy in Berlin, Germany, July 5, 2008. (Associated Press).

By Jonathan Weisman
Conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel today sternly warned Sen. Barack Obama against speaking at Berlin's famed Brandenburg Gate when he passes through Europe later in the month, with her spokesman telling reporters that such "electioneering" would be "inappropriate" at a site of such historical significance.

Merkel was responding to a report in the German magazine Der Spiegel, which said "the Berlin state government has reportedly been asked" whether Obama could speak at the columned structure where Ronald Reagan implored Mikhail Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall and where revelers famously celebrated the wall's demise. Obama is expected to be in the German capital July 24, the Agence France Presse reported.

Obama campaign aides have not formally confirmed any details about his European trip and declined again to do so this morning.

Through her spokesman, Merkel, one of President Bush's strongest allies, was blunt. She said she would be willing to meet with the senator from Illinois, but not at the Brandenburg Gate.

"It is unusual to hold election rallies abroad," sniffed Merkel spokesman Thomas Steg. "No German candidate for high office would even think of using the National Mall or Red Square in Moscow for a rally because it would not be seen as appropriate."

Merkel may ultimately have no choice. The left-leaning government in Berlin decides what can and cannot be done at the Brandenburg Gate, and AFP reported the Berlin mayor, Klaus Wowereit, is inclined to give Obama the go-ahead. The foreign ministry has also said it would welcome an Obama address there, worrying that blocking such a request would be seen as an affront to the man who could be the next president of the United States.

"Senator Obama looks forward to his visit to Germany and his opportunity to meet with the Chancellor," said Obama spokesperson Jen Psaki. "He has considered several sites for a possible speech, and he will choose one that makes most sense for him and his German hosts."

By Web Politics Editor  |  July 9, 2008; 11:46 AM ET
Categories:  Barack Obama  
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Tamara you write:

"Obama probably picked Auschwitz but his handlers convinced him to use the Gate instead."

What the f*** are you talking about? Are you on drugs?

As there must be some twisted thinking behind what you say, I realize you must be somewhere in space, or have been sleeping the last 63 years or so....

Auswitsch is in Poland, not Germany.

The war is over; the Nazis lost....

Yes, I can imagine it comes as a shock to you. Jews and Blacks and everybody else can visit Berlin again.

Posted by: Ronn | July 12, 2008 9:01 AM | Report abuse

Dear Max Rugemer

That is an odd twist.

I think it also odd, about 11% of germans favor McCain.

Isn't it also 11 % that support neo nazi groups in Germany today?

Posted by: Ronn | July 12, 2008 8:46 AM | Report abuse

If Democrat Obama wasn't ignorant of history he'd know that Hitler has already done the great speaker shtick to death in Germany.

Posted by: Max Rugemer | July 9, 2008 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Merkel shouldn't even be an issue here. The real problem is that we've got this egomaniacal candidate who likens himself to some of the greatest leaders who ever lived on the planet when IN FACT OBAMA HAS DONE NOTHING OF IMPORTANCE, and he, nor any of his cult members, should be making those comparisons.

And why does he want to give a speech in Germany ? Because he's an ass, that's why. Merkel called him out. Good for her.

Posted by: SickOfObama | July 9, 2008 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I find it funny how this article and many of the comments here point out that Merkel is a 'conservative', and therefore she allegedly wants to help McCain. On a worldwide scale, the American political system is so far right from center - most European 'conservatives' have probably more in common with Democrats than with Republicans and I wouldn't be surprised if Merkel would actually prefer Obama over McCain.

Anyway, her argument that allowing foreign politicians to hold campaign events in front of national landmarks would be awkward, sounds pretty reasonable to me. I don't see what all the fuss is about.

Posted by: Sloan | July 9, 2008 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Merkel needs to stay out of US politics.

Obama should stay out of her country!

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Oh you faint-hearted,please,don´t be soo moral about this! Not just Obama, you may ALL come for a visit, stand before Brandenburg-gate and hold a speech.After all, Your fathers saved my dear country from itself ! And to be honest: Obama would signify a remarkable improvement to the self-righteous "god-king"-Dalai-Lama-speech a few weeks ago at same venue.

Posted by: Peter Schilling, Berlin | July 9, 2008 4:00 PM | Report abuse

And so while pretending to want to prevent Germany from being an issues in American politics, Merkel and ally of Bush made her self one.

Reminds me of when bush went to Israel to criticize Obama, and when the conservative Canadians attacked him. Republicans are shameless even in other countries.

Posted by: Julian | July 9, 2008 3:52 PM | Report abuse

In answer to the usual smears against Obama and his supporters. Let's talk about reality instead of exchanging tired cliches about bots and buses.

Angelan Merkel and the Christian Democratic Party that run Germany as a coalition gov't with the Social Democrats, organized a massive occupation of a little town on the Baltic last year about this tíme for the G8 meeting. The police and army created a no-go zone more than 10 km in circumfrence around the hotel.

They also condoned many illegal acts by the police that included arbitrary arrests and the dissolution of a registered protest march in Rostock. I know because I was there. But there is enough information still available on the internet if you wish to find out what happened. The news agencies white-washed what was more or less a police riot.

What was the main reason for all this police activity? President Bush had to be spared any embarassment at all costs. And cost it did: Millions of euros and the death of one policeman who supposedly fell out of the back of a police van, though his collegues seem to tell conflicting stories that didn't satisfiy the policeman's father.

A change in the U.S. would also help to bring a change in "old" Europe (as that philosopher Rumsfeld once called it), and many people here would welcome Obama.

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: Chris Brown | July 9, 2008 3:43 PM | Report abuse

Cult members? There are more Democrats in the US then Republicans. If there are any "cults" it is the right wing Nazi evangelical Christians.

Posted by: Daddio on the Paddio | July 9, 2008 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Merkel needs to stay out of US politics. I hope President Obama snubs her when he invites the NATO leadership to Washington next year.

Posted by: Daddio opn the Paddio | July 9, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Obama is surely the president who can lead America and recreate its image in the world. Go Obama!!! Visit

Posted by: Sally White | July 9, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

Of course it wouldn't be fair to mention that Reagan was PRESIDENT when he made his speech. Kennedy was PRESIDENT when he made his speech Bush is PRESIDENT when he goes to Isreal. It seems that Obama followers are all emotion and no facts.

Posted by: David Adams | July 9, 2008 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I love how the Obama cult members feel compelled to shred Merkel because she doesn't want the slickly packaged and marketed junk candidate using one of her country's most famous monuments for his own self-serving purposes. Obama probably picked Auschwitz but his handlers convinced him to use the Gate instead.

Face it, 'bots, your guy is goin' down. Hello President McCain.

Posted by: Tamara | July 9, 2008 2:24 PM | Report abuse

Obama's a freaking idiot. He's all fluff and no substance. He and his Dem pals have turned this primary season into a circus. I wish Lloyd Bentsen hadn't passed away, he'd put Obama in his place, Bentsen knew Jack Kennedy and Senator Obama is no Jack Kennedy.

Good for Chancellor Merkel for seeing right through this charade.

Posted by: Sandra | July 9, 2008 2:19 PM | Report abuse

Bravo! Three Cheers for Chancellor Merkel
and hot dang it's great to see other of
the world leaders are not buying Messiah
Barack Hussein Obama is the Savior of the
World as well..So much for Obama's getting
"Swooning Crowds" to greet him in Europe.
Wake Up Democrats and Throw Obama under
the bus!

Posted by: Sherry Kay | July 9, 2008 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Talk about firing a cannon to kill a fly.

This broad has issues, which has nothing to do with a possible Obama speech at the wall.

Posted by: Linda | July 9, 2008 1:41 PM | Report abuse

Hey Merkel, keep you preferences to yourself. If it wasn't for America you'd all be speaking German!!.....oh wait...DOH!

Posted by: thebob.bob | July 9, 2008 1:35 PM | Report abuse

Hey Merkel, did you get something other than a 'neck rub' for this "principled stand" of yours? If you're SO incensed, invite old man McSame over and see if he can equal the back rub of his buddy Bush.

Posted by: Debra | July 9, 2008 1:15 PM | Report abuse

angriestdogintheworld - Presumption proceeds fall

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:07 PM | Report abuse

First of all the Obama trip is not firmed up. Second politics a la USA are a scary scenario here in the land where the masses have let their emotions drive them. Germany is not the key player here in Europe. Do the photos and hit the road to Paris and London. Merkel has her problems without some one taking the spot light from her. A speech at the Brandenburg Tor should really be reserved for a significant happening.

Posted by: Anonymous | July 9, 2008 1:03 PM | Report abuse

I thought Germany was occupied? Can not the occupiers do what they want?

Posted by: angriestdogintheworld | July 9, 2008 12:59 PM | Report abuse

Frau Merkel did a bit of her own electioneering in the States as she was running as the top CDU leader for Kansler. This included broadcasts of meetings with Bush. Her supposed dismay over electioneering by candidates is partisan politics and as such hypocritical.

There are many here in Germany who would prefer it if she stayed in Japan.

Chris Brown in Hamburg

Posted by: Chris Brown | July 9, 2008 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Right, but having Bush go to Israel for John McCain and compare Obama to Hitler is ok though, right??

Posted by: Mike D | July 9, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

No neck rub for you, Angela!

Posted by: steve boyington | July 9, 2008 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Excellent for Merkel

Obama needs to get over his Savior complex..

Posted by: Tonga | July 9, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

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