Mixed reception for Obama Euro tour

Germans go wild but French, Brits resist

Barack Obama used the capitals of Europe as a stage for some potent political theater during the weekend.

But while there were the obligatory "Obamamania" headlines on broadsheets across the continent, it was only in Germany that his arrival created a media frenzy.

The presumptive Democratic presidential candidate received a rock-star reception in the German capital, with hundreds of thousands coming out to hear him speak in front of Berlin's Victory Column and 5 million more tuning in to watch the speech live on public television.

"I've never seen anything like it, especially not for a presidential nominee," John Kornblum, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany, told a local station.

The German media played along, giving mostly fawning coverage of the visit. Newsweekly Der Spiegel called him a "superstar."

The French and British media were more restrained.

The Paris press corps probably outnumbered the small crowd that gathered behind the barriers outside the Elysee Palace to catch a glimpse of Obama during his five-hour stop in the French capital. And they were less than enthusiastic after a joint news conference between Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in which the two men said they'd found common ground on many issues.

A beaming Sarkozy paid many compliments to his "friend" Obama, who reciprocated. The pair were "like two old ladies complimenting each other on their hairdos," commented the oft irreverent newspaper Liberation.

In Britain, the political woes of Prime Minister Gordon Brown overshadowed the U.K. leg of Obama's European tour. Brown's Labour party lost a major by-election less than 48 hours before Obama's arrival, knocking the visit off the top spot in print, radio and TV coverage.

"It's safe to say you might not have known Obama was (in the U.K.)," said one political commentator there. "Because he didn't come here to make a speech in Hyde Park or wherever, it meant it wasn't that big a deal." (partialdiff)