April 3, 2009
"Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive ... But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious."
President Obama, during a town hall in Strasbourg, France
The President seems shockingly candid during the first town hall of his trip, admitting that the U.S. and Europe have "allowed our alliance to drift" in recent years. He says Americans shoulder some of that blame and vows to repair damaged relations with the allies. He also uses the event to encourage a skeptical Europe to support his revamped strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, saying, "This is a joint problem. And it requires a joint effort."
The press, meanwhile, is playing close attention to Michelle Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni, a former model and actress, as they enjoy their own entente cordiale. The two fashionistas receive almost as much attention as their husbands during the Obamas' visit to France, particularly as they stand side by side sharing the red carpet at the welcoming ceremony.
Barack Obama appears to get along well with the French leader, who even offers to take custody of a Gitmo prisoner if asked, because France is opposed to the detention facility.