Courting Asia, Obama finds that the world intrudes
‘‘We believe the United States can walk and chew gum at the same time,’’ Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Tuesday in Phnom Penh. The shift of resources and attention to Asia will occur with or without diversions, he said. ‘‘We'll continue to move forward with our pivot even as we manage the inevitable crises and challenges that will come up in other regions.’’
Indeed, after spending months mired in a biting presidential campaign, Obama appeared to revel in being back on the world stage.
The trip was poignant, too. It marked his last overseas tour alongside Clinton, his former rival turned partner. Clinton has long said she plans to leave the administration ahead of Obama’s second term, or shortly after it is under way.
Obama and Clinton flew across Southeast Asia together on Air Force One and walked down the plane’s front steps together in Myanmar and Cambodia.
He singled her out at Suu Kyi’s home. ‘‘I could not be more grateful, not only for your service, Hillary, but also for the powerful message that you and Aung San Suu Kyi send about the importance of women — and men — everywhere embracing and promoting democratic values and human rights,’’ Obama said.
Aides said the two reminisced aboard the presidential plane flying back from Myanmar to Cambodia.
Clinton herself said traveling with Obama one last time was ‘‘bittersweet, nostalgic, all the things you would expect.’’
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