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Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Ich bin ein Berliner"

Obama originally planned to speak in front of the iconic Brandenburg Gate, where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was photographed during a visit in 1963 shortly after the Berlin Wall had been built. Expressing solidarity with the people of the divided city during the same trip, Kennedy declared "Ich bin ein Berliner."
The gate was also the site of a speech by U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1987 in which he memorably urged Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down" the wall.

But use of the landmark was vetoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who a spokesman Wednesday said disapproved of plans to co-opt it as a "campaign backdrop."

As a youthful Democratic presidential hopeful who promises change if elected and invokes comparisons with Kennedy, Obama's strategists feel a warm welcome from Germans will be met with voters positively.

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