Obama’s College Trip to Pakistan

By Ed O'Keefe

Apr 8, 2008 8:27am

At a fundraiser in San Francisco, Ca., Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., claimed he had more world experience than his rivals, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., and introduced a new bit of biographical information.

"Foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain," Obama said, according to the Huffington Post.

"It’s ironic because this is supposedly the place where experience is most needed to be Commander-in-Chief. Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world. This I know. When Senator Clinton brags ‘I’ve met leaders from eighty countries’ — I know what those trips are like! I’ve been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There’s a group of children who do native dance. You meet with the CIA station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of a plant that [with] the assistance of USAID has started something. And then — you go."

"You do that in eighty countries," Obama said, "You don’t know those eighty countries. So when I speak about having lived in Indonesia for four years, having family that is impoverished in small villages in Africa –knowing the leaders is not important — what I know is the people…I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college — I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee."

This last part — a college trip to Pakistan — was news to many of us who have been following the race closely. And it was odd that we hadn’t hear about it before, given all the talk of Pakistan during this campaign.

So I asked the Obama campaign for more information.

Apparently, according to the Obama campaign, In 1981 — the year Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University — Obama visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia. After that visit, Obama traveled to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from there. The Obama campaign says Obama was in Pakistan for about three weeks, staying with his friend’s family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.

- jpt

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