On the Road with Obama: Ramallah, West Bank
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RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Barack Obama roadshow kept up its grueling pace Wednesday. The usual delays and frustrations that typify life in the "Muddled East" were effectively excised for the senator's 36-hour visit to the Holy Land. He kept to a strict timetable with about 100 war-zone-weary journalists in his wake.
Considering that Senator Obama arrived barely nine hours after security personnel shot and killed a rogue backhoe driver near the presidential hopeful's hotel in downtown Jerusalem, after the man attacked a bus and several cars with his yellow monster machine -- the second such road rage this month by a construction worker from East Jerusalem -- security was efficient and brisk.
Indeed the heightened security made it even tougher than usual to be "off the bus" and "out of the press bubble," with little chance of access. The mini-welcome rally organized by the local "Israel for Obama" supporters was brief. There was no time to tell if Obama was charismatic, cerebral, or jet-lagged.
From Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem to the traumatized town of Sderot near Gaza, Obama kept on the move. He crossed a checkpoint to the West Bank's de facto capital, Ramallah, to meet for less than an hour with the U.S.-backed moderates, President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayad, as part of his charm offensive. As a formal courtesy, this was a notch up from John McCain's phone call in March.