Gray, Obama meet at Mystics game
It wasn't the lunch date at Ben's Chili Bowl that Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) enjoyed, but D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray got a chance Sunday to make small talk with President Obama.
Gray (D) and Obama were both guests of Ted Leonsis at Sunday's WBNA Washington Mystic's game.
According to Gray staffers, the chairman was unaware that Leonsis, the owner of the team, had also invited Obama until a few minutes before game time. When Obama walked in with daughter Sasha, he and Gray exchanged pleasantries for about a minute but he and the president sat several seats away from each other. Gray spent part of the game chatting up Alana Beard from the Mystics and Reggie Love, Obama's personal assistant who played basketball at Duke, according to campaign aides.
During the game, Leonsis also had Gray introduced to the crowd, flashing his picture on the Jumbotron at the Verizon Center. After the game, Obama and Gray again shook hands before they parted ways, according to campaign aides.
The Gray campaign quickly uploaded photos of Gray and Obama embracing on Twitter, allowing it to counteract the photo of Obama and Fenty that the mayor used to feature on his Web site.
In January 2007, a few days before Obama was inaugurated, he and Fenty had hot dogs and burgers during a well-publicized visit to Ben's Chili Bowl.
Since then, sightings of Obama and Fenty together in public have been rare.
But because Fenty was one of Obama's earliest supporters in the 2008 presidential campaign, the local chattering class still likes to speculate about whether the president might signal his preference in this year's mayoral race.
It would be extremely rare, however, for a sitting president to endorse a candidate in a contested primary for a local office such as mayor.
Furthermore, Obama would be taking a huge risk by entering the fray between Gray and Fenty.
The District's Democratic primary occurs less than two months before the November midterms. If an Obama-backed candidate lost in D.C., GOP strategists and the national media would be buzzing about the president's lack of influence in a city that gave him 93 percent of the vote and is majority black.
If Obama couldn't sway in an election in D.C., the argument would go, how is he suppose to help Democrats win congressional races in swing districts across the country?
In other words, Gray and Fenty are probably on their own, but that probably won't stop both of them from clamoring for that next photograph with the prez.
August 2, 2010; 11:22 AM ET
Categories: 2008 Presidential Race , 2010 District Election , Mayor Fenty , Tim Craig , Vincent C. Gray , vincent gray
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