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Obama (D-Bears) in Packerland

By Peter Slevin
GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Sometimes a candidate just needs to get the bad news out first, before the media grabs hold, before the rumors spread, before the muttering begins and the campaign collapses in a heap.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Bears), faced just such a moment today in the land of the Green Bay Packers.

Obama is a sports fan. His favorite pro football team is the Chicago Bears, who happen to be the Packers' fierce rivals in the NFC Central division. Riding the wintry roads in search of victory in Tuesday's Wisconsin primary, Obama decided not to hide his loyalties.

Which explains what happened in Oshkosh, where a raucous crowd in a college sports arena cheered madly -- until the junior senator from Illinois said, "I'm sure this is the best reception a Bears' fan has ever gotten!"

Confusion. Laughter. Scattered boos.

"What happened? That love went away so quick," Obama said, smiling, before urging sympathy for a devil of a fan who had suffered through a dismal season. "Don't kick us while we're down."

The Bears, he meant. The Bears.

That was a mere warmup to Obama's upbeat appearance later Friday at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, where a banner in Packers green and yellow declared, "Cheeseheads 4 Change."

"Now, it is hard for a Packer to support a Bears fan," Obama started.

A few boos.

"But you would not want some guy to come up here and say he was a Packers fan when he was a Bears fan, would you?"

Shouts of "No!"

"Of course not. You've got to stick with your team even when they don't break .500. Even when they don't make the playoffs. Even when they make you tear your hair out. You've got to stick with your team."

Obama went on to introduce an actual Green Bay Packer, linebacker Brady Poppinga.

The candidate's gridiron sympathies are hardly a secret. He turned a December 2006 pre-game appearance on Monday Night Football (see YouTube above) into a riff on a surprise presidential campaign announcement, donning a Bears hat and declaring his faithfulness.

He takes particular pleasure in jabbing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-Yankees/Cubs) for her reluctance to choose between two baseball nations variously gloried and reviled.

In Wisconsin today, the crowds seemed in a forgiving mood, with an occasional bemused exception.

"I think he should've went with the Packers. We don't care for the Bears," said papermill worker Dan Vanden Langen, wearing a Packers parka. He called himself undecided. "Tell him if becomes a Packer fan, I'll vote for him."

In Oshkosh, Jef Hall, chairman of the local Democrats, was feeling charitable.

"I always considered the Bears like a little brother," said Hall, a computer programmer. "You want to beat 'em up, but you don't want anyone else to beat 'em up."

Erik Swenson, a junior at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh, actually felt relieved.

"I was just hoping, he wouldn't say he's a Cubs fan," Swenson said. "That would've made me mad."

Obama roots for the White Sox.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 15, 2008; 7:53 PM ET
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Next: Flexing Her Rhetorical "Will"


"Obama is a sports fan. His favorite pro football team is the Chicago Bears, who happen to be the Packers' fierce rivals in the NFC Central division."

Not that it matters, but the Bears and Packers are members of the NFC North division. It was renamed a while back.

Posted by: jvred386 | February 19, 2008 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Wow.... my man's tone def. Who knew....

Posted by: BABucher | February 18, 2008 12:02 PM | Report abuse

To JakeD,


Posted by: zaheer8068 | February 18, 2008 12:07 AM | Report abuse

I did not move Vince Foster's body, I am not a homosexual, and I am not Andy Martin. Next question?

Posted by: JakeD | February 17, 2008 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Jake D:
Didn't we see you moving Vince Foster's body?

Posted by: SJobs | February 17, 2008 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Jake D:
I didn't even know you were gay. You'll find the obama movement is pretty inclusive. It's okay to come out. Seriously, Larry's the guy from somewhere in canada who says he recently discovered he is JFK's long lost love child. You can read all about it at the grocery checkout line or on a Hillary commercial coming soon.

Posted by: barnardj1 | February 16, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

A smart Obama campaign would derive significant financial benefit from eliminating its internal media relations efforts and simply linking the Washington Post campaign coverage. The redundancy of the two operations is unseemly and wasteful.

Posted by: zukermand | February 16, 2008 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Jake d. No I never heard anything about that, but I did see the You Tube videos, Kentucky Fried Hillary, and The Video Hillary Doesn't Want You To See. These are real videos, not some B.S. Natural Enquirer garbage.

Posted by: majorteddy | February 16, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Is it even possible for a "news" report to be more fawning or less relevant and informative?
I don't see how.

Posted by: zukermand | February 16, 2008 9:39 AM | Report abuse

Some people think it's insignificant, but Hillary literally said that if the Cubs play the Yankees in a Series, she'll alternate each game who she roots for. Think about that.

What character...

Posted by: lwrzesin | February 16, 2008 4:11 AM | Report abuse

JakeD is Andy Martin. I will take a lie detector test.

Posted by: TomJx | February 16, 2008 1:21 AM | Report abuse

Back in 2000, someone started rumors that McCain had a black daughter; that was totally unsubstantiated just like that smokinggun story about Obama, which also says loud and clear: 'a guy makes this claim but there is no proof'. Shame on you for spreading rumors. I could get on youtube tomorrow and put up a video saying whatever I want about HRC (of course I will not).

Posted by: Kai_bleu | February 15, 2008 11:00 PM | Report abuse

Hillary Clinton acolytes and their ilk have been taking the Black vote for granted for generations. Well when it gets down to Obama .vs. McCain, what will you do? Vote Republican? You know what they say about payback, how does it feel?

Posted by: gmundenat | February 15, 2008 10:54 PM | Report abuse

Martinedwinanderson--Very good point!

Posted by: gmundenat | February 15, 2008 10:50 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if this is really well-played politics in sports disguise...

As in, do you think they'll spin Clinton as Hillary (D-NY Football Giants), the candidate who has embraced a sports team that recently crushed the Packers hopes and dreams on the way to the Superbowl? Not to mention that it was likely Brett Favre's last game...

In 99% of cases, this would be crazy talk, but Wisconsin REALLY loves the Packers. Heck, the whole state own s the team! I'm just sayin'...

Posted by: faberman.jason | February 15, 2008 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Any kook can invent a story and put it into the market place of ideas. Repulsive as it is, censorship would be worse. Now, a little self-censorship, known in some circles as good taste and judgment, might be appropriate. But as to that, see Andy Warhol.

Posted by: 33rdStreet | February 15, 2008 10:17 PM | Report abuse

hmm, seeing obama behind that small office desk, made him seem small. don't think he wants that image out there anymore.

it makes me think of how out of depth he'd be in the oval office.

Posted by: priusdriver | February 15, 2008 9:48 PM | Report abuse

The Clinton camp's claims that victory is just around the corner remind me of the story told by John Kenneth Galbraith of the debriefing of the German Albert Speer at the close of World War II.

How was it, Galbraith asked, that Speer knew his Germans were losing? It was, Speer replied, because the glorious victories of the Fatherland were growing ever closer to Berlin.

Posted by: Martinedwinandersen | February 15, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse


You might just manage to deliver this election to Obama wrapped in a bow. Keep it up.

Posted by: jameswhanger | February 15, 2008 9:24 PM | Report abuse

JakeD, maybe you should go ahead and post the title of the article you link to...

"Slanderous Kook: I'm a Slander Victim"

Posted by: IndependenceEveWonderlandBallroom | February 15, 2008 9:21 PM | Report abuse

"Sometimes a candidate just needs to get the bad news out first, before the media grabs hold, before the rumors spread, before the muttering begins and the campaign collapses in a heap."

Posted by: JakeD | February 15, 2008 8:33 PM | Report abuse

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