WASHINGTON — All three presidential candidates — Sens. John McCain, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton — are telling President Bush to use the Bejing Olympics to pressure China on Tibet and Darfur.
(from the print Sun-Times)
European leaders are considering a boycott of the opening ceremonies and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Wednesday said he would not go to Bejing for the launch of the Summer Games.
Clinton earlier this week said Bush should not attend the opening ceremonies and Wednesday asked her rivals to join her request. White House press secretary Dana Perino would not confirm Bush’s plans regarding the Games, which Bush has said he would attend.
Obama made his strongest statement to date when he said on Wednesday a boycott of the opening ceremonies should be an option, “if the Chinese do not take steps to help stop the genocide in Darfur and to respect the dignity, security, and human rights of the Tibetan people, then the president should boycott the opening ceremonies.”
“As I have communicated in public and to the president, it is past time for China to respect the human rights of the Tibetan people, to allow foreign journalists and diplomats access to the region, and to engage the Dalai Lama in meaningful talks about the future of Tibet.”
Obama did not want to respond directly to the question of Bush boycotting the Olympic opening when Clinton made her call because he prefers to make policy announcements on his timetable, not hers.
McCain said Bush “ought to keep his options open here and decide as we see the situation evolve.”
Obama has been dealing with questions about his Bejing Olympic policy for the past week. Chicago is in the running for the 2016 Olympics and talk of any kind of a boycott is not helpful to the city’s bid for the games, which Mayor Daley sees as a legacy capping his tenure. One of Obama’s top advisers, Valerie Jarrett, is the vice chair of Chicago’s bid committee.