WASHINGTON - Republican John McCain's campaign yesterday sharply criticized Democratic rival Barack Obama for canceling a visit to wounded troops in Germany, saying Obama chose foreign leaders and cheering Europeans over "injured American heroes."
Obama's campaign called the accusation "wildly inappropriate." His spokesman has said that the visit to a military hospital in Germany was scrapped after the Pentagon raised concerns about political activity on a military base.
Earlier, though, the campaign had said Obama decided the visit might be seen as inappropriate politicking. However, the Pentagon said the senator was never told not to visit.
McCain himself joined in the rebuke, saying in an interview to be aired today by ABC's "This Week" that "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."
McCain added, "He certainly found time to do other things."
The McCain campaign's criticism came as it grappled for another day with the intense media attention focused on Obama's tour of the Middle East and Europe. The Arizona Republican had goaded Obama into visiting Iraq and Afghanistan, then watched as Obama's meetings with the leaders of those countries and Jordan, Israel, the Palestinians, Germany, France and Great Britain dominated the political news.
Obama was flying from London to Chicago yesterday when the McCain campaign issued a statement from Joe Repya, a retired Army colonel who said Obama had broken a commitment to visit the wounded Americans, "instead, flitting from one European capital to the next."
McCain yesterday also pledged support for a proposal to expand protections for disabled people under an 18-year-old landmark civil rights law.
Speaking by satellite to a disabilities forum in Columbus, Ohio, from Arizona, McCain said yesterday that revisions to the Americans With Disabilities Act must leave no doubt that it was intended to protect from any discrimination that's based on physical or mental disabilities.
A month ago, the House passed a bill to extend protections to people who take medicine to control epilepsy, diabetes or cancer or use prosthetic limbs.