Obama Draws Only 5,000 in Berlin Speech, Down From 200,000 in 2008

Image: Obama Draws Only 5,000 in Berlin Speech, Down From 200,000 in 2008

Wednesday, 19 Jun 2013 07:19 PM

By Todd Beamon

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President Barack Obama returned to Berlin on Wednesday — but he found a very different reception than when he visited the German capital five years ago.

Then, candidate Obama greeted an estimated 200,000 people in July 2008 who turned out to hear him speak in front of Berlin's Tiergarten, one of the nation's most notable landmarks, The Atlantic reports.

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German officials attacked Obama for initially wanting to stage his speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate — while Republicans in the United States winced at the thought of a presidential hopeful being adored on the international stage.

But on Wednesday, only 5,000 to 6,000 people turned out to hear Obama speak — and all of them were invited guests, the Atlantic reports.

It’s probably because — the Atlantic opines — Obama’s reputation has been "tarnished" by the surveillance scandals, his extensions of the war on terror, and results of him not being able to make good on his promises.

"He's 'demystified' and 'no longer a superstar' in German eyes," the Atlantic reports. "Now he's just another world leader on a state visit, and whatever problems people have with U.S. policy are on his shoulders."

In his speech, Obama called for both the U.S. and Russia to cut their nuclear arsenals, defended American intervention in Syria, talked about closing Guantanamo Bay, and moving forward on climate change.

He even quoted President John F. Kennedy’s famous line from his speech to West Berlin on June 26, 1963: "Ich bin ein Berliner (I am a Berliner)."

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"But it was notably different in tone than 2008’s more sweeping view of the world, which was a speech more fitting for a candidate," the Atlantic reports.

By contrast, 450,000 attended Kennedy’s West Berlin speech — and about 45,000 were on hand near the Berlin Wall to hear President Ronald Reagan challenge Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to "tear down this wall" on June 12, 1987.

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