Stephen Hess joins Jesus Esquivel of Proceso and Michel Martin on NPR’s Tell Me More to discuss the significance of traveling abroad by presidential candidates.
Michel Martin, host: As we just mentioned, presidential candidate Senator John McCain traveled to Colombia earlier this week. He’s now in Mexico wrapping up a three day overseas tour and his rival, Senator Barack Obama has pledged to visit Europe, the Middle East and Iraq before the election. We wanted to talk more about the significance of presidential candidates’ trips abroad so we asked Stephen Hess, senior fellow emeritus of Governance Studies with the Brookings Institution, to check in with us. Along with Jesus Esquivel, the Washington correspondent for Mexico’s Proceso magazine, it’s a political journal. Welcome to you both. Thanks for stopping.
Jesus Esquivel: Thank you.
Michel Martin: Stephen, it’s good to talk to you again. Is it customary for candidates or presumed candidates as people calling them to make a point of traveling overseas during the campaign or is it something unusual?
Stephen Hess: No, this is quite standard. Like planned, if you get to be president, you will include some international travel and nothing unique about this year although there is something unique about where they’re going. Usually the Euro trip, historically, is a three I’s circuit; Ireland, Italy and Israel. Obviously the reasons are obvious, you are trying, the candidates are trying to show respect to other countries and to Americans who at large are voting a block. But also again, depending on the candidates’ own background it’s one of those things that you check off on your list to show your qualities to be president and knowledge of international affairs.
You have such a huge difference between Donald Trump and Joe Biden in their attitudes towards Europe [...] It makes a big difference that we now have a president who is committed to transatlantic relations [... Biden has been] steeped in these issues for decades so that’s a relief for the Europeans.