The Wall Street Journal‘s world-wide newsbox leads with Barack Obama’s speech in Berlin, where he spoke in front of around 200,000 people and called for improving ties between the United States and Europe. The Los Angeles Times leads locally but goes high with Barack Obama’s continued troubles convincing the U.S. electorate that he should be the one sitting in the Oval Office next year. The Washington Post also leads with local news, but off-leads word that John McCain will likely announce his running mate “soon.” Well, at least that’s what the headline says. The story itself is a little more disappointing and notes John McCain “is weighing whether to announce” his running mate in the next few weeks. Really, it doesn’t seem like he has much choice because his campaign has decided that McCain shouldn’t risk being overshadowed by news from the Olympics and the Democratic convention starts the day after the summer games end.
After a week of pretty much glowing press coverage on Obama’s tour, it looks like it’s time for the backlash. Yesterday, Obama spoke about the need for the world to come together to defeat several threats, including terrorism, global warming, and poverty. He brought up the word “walls” several times and said that those that exist between countries, races, and religions “cannot stand.” He added: “These now are the walls we must tear down.”
The crowd, of course, went wild. It’s hardly a secret that Obama is extremely popular in Europe but the NYT fronts a look at how European officials aren’t as quick to share in the enthusiasm for the simple reason that they’re not sure what they can expect from an Obama administration. Obama glossed over details yesterday and even though it’s clear that the Democrat would be more willing to listen to opposing viewpoints than the current president, they’re worried about his protectionist slant in trade policy. There’s also the likelihood that Obama won’t change the U.S. position on Israel and will increase pressure for European countries to do more in Afghanistan. Overall, there’s a nagging feeling that Obama is not really that interested in Europe as a French newspaper highlighted that he has never met with the European Union ambassador in Washington.
Then again, Obama is unlikely to care as much about the hurt feelings of European leaders than those of Americans who think the Democrat and doesn’t care about the everyday issues in the United States. John McCain made a big deal yesterday of emphasizing that while Obama was talking to adoring fans in Germany, he has been busy “campaigning across the heartland of America.” Some of that message at least appears to be sticking. It can hardly be considered a representative sample, but the LAT talks to some people at the cancer forum that McCain attended last night who expressed disappointment that Obama wasn’t there. And some Hillary Clinton supporters say it’s difficult for them to get excited about a campaign that they describe as “marked by hubris and a style dedicated to televised extravaganzas,” says the LAT.
Most worrying for Obama is that voters still tell pollsters they can identify more with McCain’s background and values. And, as the LAT and WSJ highlight, Obama’s support in some key states may be slipping. Polls taken before Obama went abroad show that his lead in Colorado and Minnesota has narrowed and he’s statistically tied with McCain. He continues to lead in Michigan and Wisconsin, but by smaller margins than about a month ago.
The NYT‘s David Brooks may have picked up on something that could be troubling voters. Brooks writes that Obama’s speeches almost always follow the same pattern: “Some problem threatens. The odds are against the forces of righteousness. But then people of good faith unite and walls come tumbling down.” Brooks admits that his “American soul was stirred” when he first heard this “sort of radically optimistic speech in Iowa.” Problem is that “now it is more than half a year on, and the post-partisanship of Iowa has given way to the post-nationalism of Berlin, and it turns out that the vague overture is the entire symphony,” writes the NYT columnist. “The golden rhetoric impresses less, the evasion of hard choices strikes one more.” Maybe it’s time to bring in some new speechwriters.