Obama in Berlin to Walk in Kennedy's Footsteps; Following Tradition: Barack Obama Places a Written Prayer in the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Early Today. He Travelled to Berlin Where He Was Making an Open-Air Speech to Thousands at the Victory Column

The Evening Standard (London, England), July 24, 2008 | Go to article overview

Obama in Berlin to Walk in Kennedy's Footsteps; Following Tradition: Barack Obama Places a Written Prayer in the Western Wall, Jerusalem, Early Today. He Travelled to Berlin Where He Was Making an Open-Air Speech to Thousands at the Victory Column


Byline: JOE MURPHY

BARACK OBAMA'S extraordinary world tour arrived in Berlin today where huge crowds are set to turn out to hear him speak.

The first black presidential frontrunner is already a runaway favourite among Germans, enjoying a 49-point lead over Republican John McCain, according to the latest poll.

Some were forecasting that more than 100,000 people would flock to hear him make an open air speech at the Victory Column in Berlin's Tiergarten park.

Mr Obama's decision to make his only big European speech in Berlin rather than London dismayed British politicians. But to American voters, the German capital is the legendary location where John F Kennedy made his great "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

The senator wanted to speak at the Brandenburg Gate where Ronald Reagan famously urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall". But that was vetoed by Chancellor Angela Merkel who ruled that the gate was a venue for presidents rather than mere candidates.

Despite that setback, Obama-mania was sweeping Europe and influential magazine Der Spiegel dedicated its weekend issue to the visit, picturing Mr Obama on the cover with the headline "Germany meets the superstar".

Mr Obama ended a tour of the Middle East this morning by visiting the Western Wall in Jerusalem, the holiest place in Judaism, where he bowed his head in prayer and followed the tradition of pushing a small note into a crevice. He then set off for Germany where he will hold his first meeting with Mrs Merkel to discuss transatlantic ties, trade talks, climate change, Afghanistan and Iraq and the future of Nato. …

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