Page last updated at 01:53 GMT, Sunday, 27 July 2008 02:53 UK

Obama missed 'injured US heroes'

Barack Obama speaks in Berlin
John McCain condemned Mr Obama for giving a political speech in Berlin

US presidential hopeful Barack Obama has been criticised by his Republican rival for cancelling a visit to injured US soldiers in Germany this week.

John McCain's campaign office said Mr Obama's speeches to cheering Europeans should not have been a substitute for comforting "injured American heroes".

Mr Obama responded by saying he dropped the visit after the Pentagon warned it might be considered a political event.

But officials later insisted the senator had never been told not to go.

A Pentagon spokesman said Mr Obama had only been told he could not do so if he was accompanied by campaign staff and reporters.

US military personnel and facilities are prohibited from being associated with partisan political campaigns and elections.

'Political cross-fire'

A new campaign advert for Mr McCain criticised his Democratic opponent for being disrespectful by making "time to go to the gym" during his European tour while at the same time cancelling his visit to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Centre on Friday.

If I had been told by the Pentagon that I couldn't visit those troops... there would have been a seismic event
John McCain

"Seems the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras," the advert claims. "John McCain is always there for our troops."

A McCain spokesman, retired Lt Col Joe Repy, claimed that Mr Obama had "badly misjudged the important demands of the office he seeks".

"Visits with world leaders and speeches to cheering Europeans shouldn't be a substitute for comforting injured American heroes," he said.

The Arizona senator told Sunday's ABC TV's This Week programme: "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."

Justin Webb
We Brits forget sometimes that Obama and McCain are competing to become America's Queen. As it were...

Before heading home from Europe, Mr Obama said the Pentagon had notified his campaign that the visit to Landstuhl might be viewed as political if he brought along an adviser, retired Maj-Gen Scott Gration.

"That triggered then a concern that maybe our visit was going to be perceived as political," he told reporters in London.

"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."

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