Welcoming Bush ... But Waiting For Obama
DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania -- For a president in his last year in office, heading overseas is one sure-fire means of getting away from that annoying election campaign to succeed you for a little while. Or is it?
Turns out many of the folks President Bush is visiting here have been following the contest back in the United States almost as much as the Americans -- thanks to a favorite son, of sorts, in Barack Obama, the senator from Illinois whose father was born and grew up in neighboring Kenya. Many Africans are bristling with excitement over the idea that "one of our blood," as a shopkeeper in Mwenge market put it, could become president.
But Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete is no fool. He understands the difference between a would-be president and the real thing. And so when a reporter during a joint news conference with Bush today asked Kikwete about African enthusiasm for Obama's candidacy, he diplomatically played it down and heaped praise instead on the president who just gave him a five-year, $698 million aid package.
"Of course, people talk with excitement of Obama," Kikwete said. But he added, "For us, the most important thing is, let him be as good friend of Africa as President Bush has been."
As for Bush, he did not seem all that thrilled at the notion of being upstaged in his moment on the world stage. "It seemed like there was a lot of excitement for me -- wait a minute!" he said with a laugh. "Maybe you missed it."
-- Peter Baker
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