John McCain, the Republican presidential hopeful, has criticised his Democratic rival, Barack Obama, because he cancelled a visit to injured US soldiers this week, when he went to Germany.
Mr Obama’s speeches to cheering Europeans should not have been a substitute for comforting “injured American heroes”, said John McCain’s campaign office.
It is after he had been warned by the Pentagon that it might be considered a political event, that he dropped the visit, answered his Democratic rival.
But later, officials insisted the senator had never been told not to go. Mr Obama had only been told that if he was accompanied by campaign staff and reporters, he could not do so, said a Pentagon spokeswoman, as US military personnel and facilities are prohibited from being associated with partisan political campaigns and elections.
In a new campaign advert, Mr Obama is described as disrespectful by his Republican opponent, because during his European tour he made “time to go to the gym”, and at the same time cancelling his visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre on Friday.
“Seems the Pentagon wouldn’t allow him to bring cameras”, the advert claims. “John McCain is always there for our troops.”
Barack Obama had “badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks”, claimed retired Lt Col Joe Repy, a McCain spokesman, adding that “visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn’t be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes”.
“If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn’t visit those troops, and I was there and wanted to be there, I guarantee you, there would have been a seismic event”, the Arizona senator told Sunday’s ABC TV’s This Week programme.
Barack Obama’s campaign had been notified by the Pentagon that the visit to Landstuhl might be viewed as political if he brought along an adviser, retired Maj-Gen Scott Gration, said the Democratic candidate before heading home from Europe.
In London he told reporters : “That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political.”
“And the last thing that I want to do is have injured soldiers and the staff at these institutions having to sort through whether this is political or not and get caught in the cross-fire between campaigns.”