Obama had cheering Germans; McCain had German sausage

With their choice of counterprogramming for Obama's Berlin speech, Republicans try to portray McCain as more focused on the U.S. than Obama is.

Published July 24, 2008 7:50PM (EDT)

Talk about contrasts: While Barack Obama appeared before tens of thousands of fans in Berlin, ABC News was reporting that John McCain countered by -- drum roll, please -- visiting a sausage joint in Columbus, Ohio, to speak to half a dozen small-business owners.

Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant features a "German Autobahn Buffet" and cardboard cutouts of a Bavarian man in lederhosen and a woman in a traditional German dirndl. Tourists can stick their heads in holes where the cutouts' faces should be and have their friends take pictures -- no word on whether McCain got in on the fun.

McCain's visit to Schmidt's isn't the only German-influenced counterprogramming coming from the anti-Obama folks, either. The Republican National Committee also jumped on the Teutonic theme by airing a new radio ad titled "Obama Chooses Washington Over Our Military" in three U.S. towns named Berlin (Berlin, N.H., Berlin, Pa., and Berlin, Wis., specifically). The ad hits Obama for voting against funding for U.S. troops. As Newsweek's the Stumper pointed out, though, the spot is somewhat misleading -- McCain cast a similar vote himself. On Friday, Obama will travel to Paris, so the RNC will be airing the same ad in American towns named Paris.

These moves seem like dicey ones for McCain. He drew guffaws from some pundits earlier this week when footage of him riding in a golf cart with George H.W. Bush was shown next to pictures of Obama looking presidential on his trip to the Middle East. The comparison was jarring. And even something as delicious as sausage doesn't exactly help McCain when he's going up against Obama's cheering crowds.

McCain's original plan for counterprogramming Obama's speech was to speak from an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. As noted in an earlier post, however, that plan was canceled, officially the result of weather conditions but perhaps in part due to a large oil spill nearby.

Update: McCain aide Mark Salter e-mailed Salon's Mike Madden to give his report on the event: "Just enjoyed a delicious bratwurst. And a cream puff!"

By Justin Jouvenal

Justin Jouvenal is an editorial fellow at Salon and a graduate student in journalism at New York University.

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2008 Elections Barack Obama John Mccain R-ariz.