Obama on Mandela: 'I Do Not Need a Photo Op'
It remains up in the air whether he will meet the ailing luminary
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Jun 28, 2013 10:12 AM CDT
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama wave as they board Air Force One to depart for South Africa, in Dakar, Senegal, Friday, June 28, 2013   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

(Newser) – Barack Obama is en route to South Africa just as Nelson Mandela looks en route to the hereafter (though his ex-wife says he's showing "great improvement"). But Obama says he won't push too hard to see the ailing luminary, for fear of being an unwanted complication. "We'll see what the situation is when we land," Obama said while on Air Force One, the AFP reports. "I do not need a photo op. ... I think that the message we'll want to deliver is not directly to him but to his family, is simply profound gratitude for his leadership all these years."

Don't take that as indifference; Obama considers Mandela a major inspiration, and says he got into politics via the anti-apartheid movement, the New York Times reports. When Oprah Winfrey offered to convey a message from the then-senator to Mandela in 2005, Obama spent so long writing it that Robert Gibbs had to go check on him. "I can't just wing a note to Nelson Mandela," Obama protested. Obama eventually met Mandela later that year, in a chance meeting in Washington—and it remains their only face-to-face encounter.

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Showing 3 of 58 comments
Jun 30, 2013 3:23 PM CDT
So in other words: Mandela didn't want to be seen in the same room with him ?
Jun 29, 2013 7:46 AM CDT
Barack Obama ALWAYS needs a photo op. Now if he just knew how to do his job?
Jun 28, 2013 5:45 PM CDT
With all the WH Scandals that's going on right now: Benghazi, IRS, NSA, etc., Oblabla needs all the positive photo op he can get. He needs to draw attention away from all the scandals and shift it to something else no one cares about, like he did with his global warming (lies) speech the other day. Mandela should refuse to see him, because Oblabla isn't a pimple on his ass. He should just stop by the hospital he was born in and so hi.