Reuters) - Last time Barack Obama wanted Angela Merkel's help getting elected, she rebuffed a seemingly modest request from the junior senator from Illinois to hold a presidential campaign rally at Berlin's iconic Brandenburg Gate.
Four years on, and the favor the president is asking of the chancellor could hardly be bigger: get thriving Germany to spend Europe out of a slump that is dragging down the global economy and could well sink Obama's chances of re-election in November.
A year and a day after he awarded Merkel America's highest civil honor, a seeming token of his high expectations for her cooperation, Obama on Friday again told European leaders they had an "urgent need to act" to resolve a debt crisis that has pitted a buoyant Germany against EU neighbors facing recession.
But Merkel, aware that appearing to bail out spendthrift foreigners can sink her conservatives' own re-election hopes, shows little sign of being more helpful than when she sniffed that Obama's plan for a 2008 campaign stop in Berlin was "odd".
So can the man who nonetheless charmed 200,000 other Germans that day, echoing Berlin's favorite American John F. Kennedy in a speech given in a city park, now persuade Merkel to heed pleas from her European Union peers for a little more fiscal stimulus?
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