The Washington Times - July 22, 2008, 08:30PM



BERLIN Team Obama has received a record-breaking 1,300 requests for press credentials from reporters who want to cover his speech here Thursday.


They had hundreds of credential requests in Iowa and for the Oprahpalooza events, but nothing this massive in the history of the campaign. He already has a full press plane of traveling press who will cover the evening speech for their radio stations, newspapers and networks back home.


The flood of requests comes over just two days - the event was officially advised Sunday.


The press riser at the “Victory Column” here will be huge, but certainly won’t be large enough to accommodate everyone. (Read this article for the column’s more sordid history.)


Getting here a few days early, I got a sneak peek at how the site will be transformed. These gates will set up a perimeter, and police are already directing traffic away from portions of the site. I asked one officer why — as some German commuters grumbled about the extra traffic — they weren’t allowing cars around the column and he told me, “because the president from America is coming.”



Language barrier, probably, but he was the second person I spoke to today who made the mistake.


I took some video to capture a rough idea of where Obama will deliver what the campaign calls an address on the importance of a Trans Atlantic partnership:





I don’t have my positioning exactly right in the video, but that’s the basic set up. I’ll also debunk a few myths. Despite what many of us in the political press corps have reported back home, the column is not that close to Brandenburg Gate. It was at least a 20-minute walk. Attendees will be able to see the gate in the far off distance, but not clearly.


Berlin doesn’t allow posters to be plastered throughout the city, so the Obama camp is distributing them online, offering them to shopkeepers to post if they choose and has even passed out “Obama” buttons to local waiters.


Mostly the event’s publicity will be through ex-pats organizing locally, word-of-mouth and earned media in the newspapers.


Here’s the Brandenburg Gate, which was the initial preferred site for the Obama speech.



The scene at Brandenburg Gate is vibrant and includes lots of musicians and vendors, reminiscent of Pier 39 in San Francisco.



The gate itself holds an important place in history, as it was where President Ronald Reagan boomed, “Mr. Gorbachav, tear down this wall.”


Here’s a plaque in honor of the American president, not far from “The Kennedy’s Museum for Berlin.”



Here’s some video of the Reagan speech.


The hotel where I’m staying has a rich history, and even has a place in pop history as it was the spot where Michael Jackson dangled his infant son off the balcony. Here’s the view from my sixth floor window which (still) opens.



And thanks to everyone for offering tips on how to fix my German Google troubles.


Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times

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