Washington Prowler

Obama Berlin

If the Brandenburg Gate is closed to him, another equally prestigious pre-inauguration spot will be made available.

By 7.14.08

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Sen. Barack Obama is sending his advance team to Berlin and it will meet with Berlin and Federal government officials early this week, either late Monday or early Tuesday.

According to an Obama campaign insider, the campaign does not believe it can get the prime Brandenburg Gate space for his speech without greatly upsetting Prime Minister Angela Merkel and the German Chancellery. Instead, according to the insider, it intends to request that Obama be allowed to speak from a platform in front of the German Reichstag, home of today's German parliament, and the opposition Social Democratic (SPD) party is attempting to assist in the negotiations.

Unnoticed in these negotiations is the assistance of the American Academy in Berlin, the ostensibly nonpartisan research institution that was opened early in the Clinton presidency and that continues to have close ties with former Clinton officials such former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke. According to the Obama adviser, several groups, including the American Academy, have offered to help the Obama campaign with its European tour, particularly in Germany.

"One group offered to put 50 influential American and German young leaders in the front row for any event Obama might have held in Berlin," said the Obama insider. "But the organization's 501(c)(3) status would have made it difficult."

The Obama advance team has also run into trouble with the Secret Service, which has nixed at least one alternative site to the Brandenburg Gate that the campaign was looking at last week. Now it appears Obama could be given one of the grandest settings a political candidate might want, in front of the newly restored Reichstag in the magnificent heart of reunited Berlin.

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