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Obama's Overseas Travel Turning Into Campaign Stops


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obama-campaigns-for-votes-in-colombia.htmInvestors Business Daily:

Leadership: President Obama's defenders complain his overseas trips seem jinxed by distractions, as this weekend's Summit of the Americas was. But as presidential travels become campaign stops, shenanigans happen.

The president criticized media coverage of his visit to the Sixth Annual Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, for its focus on tawdry distractions, including the scandal of Secret Service employees who were sent home early for allegedly consorting with prostitutes while staying at taxpayer expense at a five-star beachside hotel.

The criticism may seem reasonable, given the importance of the diplomatic mission. But the specter of Secret Service men cavorting Spring Break-style is the sort of antic that takes place on campaign trails, which is the tone President Obama set for this official visit.

This trip wasn't about diplomacy, or taking a stand for democracy or encouraging American values. The president mouthed cautious, standard U.S. stances on Cuba, drugs and free trade, but did so with little conviction.

Instead, he was really focused on winning votes back home as campaign season kicks in. Acts that can only be justified in a campaign rather than diplomatic context formed a pretty long list at this summit:

• Presummit briefings suggested the trip would be all about winning the Latino vote. "There is a unique quality to the relationship that we have with the Americas, specifically the fact that we have so many of our citizens here in the United States who trace their heritage back to the Americas," White House aide Ben Rhodes said, explaining the reason for the trip.

• The president also became a new convert to free trade, despite consistently blocking it over the past three years. At a pre-summit stop in Latino-heavy Tampa, Fla., he told port workers: "When I'm in Colombia talking with other leaders, I'm going to be thinking about you." Coming from the president who delayed the U.S.-Colombia free trade pact at a huge cost of U.S. jobs, it was all about the Latino vote again.Scissors-32x32.png

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