“The most solemn duty of a commander in chief is to fulfill his responsibility to the men and women who serve this country in uniform,” retired Lt. Col. Joe Reypya, speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign, said in a statement. “Barack Obama … broke that commitment, instead flitting from one European capital to the next.”
McCain is also trying to capitalize on the missed visit by making it the topic of a new television campaign ad that began airing Saturday in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and the Washington area, the Associated Press has reported. In the ad, a narrator berates Obama for making “time to go to the gym” instead of visiting with wounded troops.
Before leaving Berlin on Friday, Obama had been scheduled to stop at the US military hospital in Landstuhl, but cancelled the visit at short notice saying he felt it would be “inappropriate.” According to a spokesperson, the senator changed his plans because he didn’t want the visit to become campaign fodder.
“For a young man so apt at playing president, Barack Obama badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks,” Reypya said in Saturday’s statement. “Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn’t be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes,” he added.
The Obama campaign responded Saturday by saying that the last thing Obama wanted “was to have injured soldiers get pulled into the back-and-forth of a political campaign.”
“That’s why we imagine Sen. McCain would be surprised that his campaign released this wildly inappropriate accusation that politicizes the issue,” Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.