Romney following in the footsteps of Obama, McGovern... and Stassen?

In an article today, I note that Mitt Romney's trip to Europe and Israel is being treated as entirely normal thing for him to do, while only four years ago, Barack Obama's mid-campaign overseas tour was considered a bizarre and unprecedented stunt.

Prior to 2008, the main example I could find of a candidate heading abroad as part of a presidential campaign was George McGovern's 1971 diplomatic mission to Vietnam, which served mainly to give him a platform to blast the Nixon administration's handling of the war.

However, according to this blog post by Eric Ham of the XII Project, there may be another precedent: 

Presidential candidates traveling abroad while also campaigning for the presidency is not a new phenomenon. In fact, these excursions, date back to as far as 1947 when Republican presidential frontrunner, Harold Stassen, took a two-month 18-country tour around Europe in the spring of that year.

Stassen, a former governor of Minnesota, is best known for having unsuccessfully run for president nine times between 1948 and 1992.  The 1948 primary, which he lost narrowly to Thomas Dewey who eventually lost to Harry Truman, was the closest he ever came to the Oval Office. 

There's doesn't seem to be much information online about Stassen's trip or his itinerary, except for this transcript of an April 9, 1947 conversation with Joseph Stalin. Sample: 

Stassen: Generalissimo Stalin, on this European trip I am particularly interested in studying conditions of an economic nature. In this regard, of course, the relations of the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. are very important. I realize that we have two economic systems that are very different. The U.S.S.R. with the Communist Party and with its planned economy and socialized collective state, and the United States of America with its free economy and regulated private capitalism are very different. I would be interested to know if you think these two economic systems can exist together in the same modern world in harmony with each other?

Stalin: Of course they can. The difference between them is not important so far as co-operation is concerned. The systems in Germany and the United States are the same but war broke out between them. The U.S. and U.S.S.R. systems are different but we didn’t wage war against each other and the U.S.S.R. does not propose to. If during the war they could co-operate, why can’t they today in peace, given the wish to co-operate? Of course, if there is no desire to co-operate, even with the same economic system they may fall out as was the case with Germany.

So much for that idea.  


Egypt's new women-only Islamic TV channel

On Saturday, as Ramadan began, a new Egyptian satellite television channel was launched, catering to and run by women. Maria TV is an all-woman Islamic channel -- the first of its kind -- in which women work the cameras, determine content, and appear as presenters and actresses, providing programming directed at a female audience.  No men will be featured in any of Maria's programming.

Shows on Maria TV will include daily news, talk-show-style programs on topics such as the first year of marriage and make up tips, as well as investigative reports on subjects like women who cheat on their husbands.  There will also be a satirical news show starring a female puppet.

Female preacher El-Sheikha Safaa Refai will head the programming. The channel is the newest creation of Ahmed Abdallah, a Cario-based producer of Islamic television, who is also the founder of Ummah TV, a religious satellite station targeting Muslim audiences throughout the Middle East. 

Hosni Mubarak's regime had targeted several security raids against Ummah TV , but since Mubarak's fall, Egyptian media has seen some relaxation of restrictions. Earlier in the summer, Egyptian broadcasting also began featuring its first political humorist and satirist, Bassem Yousef, on the air.

Maria TV, which will for now consist of six hours of programming on Ummah TV, will show only fully veiled women. Guests who choose not to wear the Niqab will have their features blurred out.

AMR NABIL/AFP/Getty Images