SPIEGEL ONLINE: In your book on the campaign you called Obama's campaign trip to Berlin in 2007 [sic, 2008] an "audacious gamble." Why?
Plouffe: The whole trip was risky. Putting on an overseas visit when you are a head of state is hard enough. As a campaign we did not have diplomatic resources. Obviously, he had to perform at a high level, for instance with the speech in Berlin. If you trip once, you pay an outsized penalty.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: And the trip was criticized.
Plouffe: The Republican candidate John McCain said that he would rather be with 10,000 bikers in the US than with 200,000 screaming people in Berlin and he compared Obama to starlets like Britney Spears. But that misread where the American electorate was. They were hungry for a leader who could have a better and stronger relationship with a country like Germany.
SPIEGEL ONLINE: Even if that is seen as being overly "European" in the US?
Plouffe: Americans don't see Berlin like they do Paris, which might seem a little bit too "socialist." That made it a little easier for us to have a public event there. All the way through to Election Day, we heard people refer to the speech and the foreign policy vision Obama outlined in Berlin.
Americans tend to associate Berlin with three presidents: Truman (the airlift), Kennedy (the building of the Wall and JFK's speech), and Reagan ("Tear down this wall!"). Curiously, Obama neglected to mention any of them in his own Berlin address.