July 24, 2008 — -- In a soaring speech delivered before tens of thousands of cheering Germans, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., argued America has no better partner than Europe, and stressed the need for European troops in Afghanistan to help defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda.
"I come to Berlin as so many of my countrymen have come before. Tonight, I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen -- a proud citizen of the United States, and a fellow citizen of the world," Obama said, standing before Berlin's famed Victory Column in Berlin.
At one point the crowd, estimated by Berlin police to number more than 200,000, burst into a chorus of "Yes we can!" -- Obama's campaign refrain in the United States.
"People of Berlin – people of the world – this is our moment. This is our time," he said.
Back home, the speech was greeted with much less enthusiasm by Obama's political rival, Sen. John McCain.
"I'd love to give a speech in Germany," McCain, R-Ariz., told reporters at a stop outside Columbus, Ohio. "But I'd much prefer to do it as president."
McCain visited Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant -- an intentional choice in a dig at Obama after the campaign's plans to visit an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico were thwarted by Hurricane Dolly-related weather.
The presumptive Democratic nominee also argued that both European and American troops are needed in Afghanistan.
"This is the moment when we must renew our resolve to rout the terrorists who threaten our security in Afghanistan, and the traffickers who sell drugs on your streets," he said. Obama has called for more U.S. troops and NATO troops to be sent to Afghanistan.
"No one welcomes war," he said. "I recognize the enormous difficulties in Afghanistan. But my country and yours have a stake in seeing that NATO's first mission beyond Europe's borders is a success. For the people of Afghanistan, and for our shared security, the work must be done. America cannot do this alone. The Afghan people need our troops and your troops; our support and your support to defeat the Taliban and al Qaeda, to develop their economy, and to help them rebuild their nation. We have too much at stake to turn back now."
Obama has been greeted warmly in his first European trip as a presidential candidate.