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Obama shopping for Rove memoir?

President Barack Obama smiles as he holds up copies of Karl Rove and Mitt Romney's books as he makes an unannounced stop at Prairie Lights book shop in Iowa City in Iowa, Thursday, March 25, 2010. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

By Stephen Lowman

President Obama popped into an Iowa City bookstore Thursday joking he was there to buy Karl Rove’s memoir.

The president surprised the staff of Prairie Lights Books, one of America's great independent bookstores, after mentioning its plight in a health care speech at the University of Iowa. He used the 32-year-old bookstore to highlight how small businesses would benefit from the health care overhaul bill he signed into law on Tuesday.

When the president showed up and deadpanned he wanted the Rove memoir, Prairie Lights owner Jan Weissmiller was quick to tell him: “We believe in freedom of expression so we have to carry the book.”

Weissmiller said Obama spent about ten minutes in the store. He purchased two children’s books, “The Secret of Zoom” by Lynne Jonell and “Journey to the River Sea” by Eva Ibbotson. Also, as a silly gift to someone accompanying him, he bought a “Star Wars” pop-up book.

“Everybody was excited,” Weissmiller said of the visit. “I kept telling everybody to act normal. I felt sort of weak!”

“I told him I was proud of him,” she said.

Earlier, Weissmiller listened to Obama’s speech on her office radio. She said she got “teary-eyed” when he mentioned Prairie Lights, which has 30 full and part time employees.

“Let me talk about what this means for a business like your own Prairie Lights Bookstore downtown,” Obama said in the speech, referring to the health care legislation. “This is a small business that’s been offering coverage to their full-time employees for the last 20 years. Last year, their premiums went up 35 percent, which made it a lot harder for them to offer the same coverage.” He said that starting immediately, Prairie Lights would qualify for tax credits to cover their employees’ health insurance.

Weissmiller, a Democrat, said someone from the White House called the bookstore earlier in the week to ask about the small business’s health coverage. She did not find out Prairie Lights would be mentioned in his speech until a local newspaper told her this morning.

Obama was on friendly soil in Iowa City, a university town and Democratic stronghold. “We are extremely proud we have only sold two of Sarah Palin’s book since it came out,” Weissmiller said. She bought three copies in November and the last one “is still sitting on the shelf.”

By Steven E. Levingston  |  March 25, 2010; 4:33 PM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: How the noisy debate over states' rights distorts history and the intent of federalism
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Great, this should really boost sales for THE SECRET OF ZOOM!

Posted by: kingbart | March 25, 2010 5:30 PM | Report abuse

Obama just gives 3 billion dollars to Israel. The way Israel has been behaving we need the 3 biiion at home.Israel has turned into an aggressor

Posted by: farmsnorton | March 25, 2010 7:18 PM | Report abuse

Great story and excellent picture.

Posted by: FurnaceCreek | March 25, 2010 7:28 PM | Report abuse

Remember all the bookstores Bush went into ... oh wait. Bush didn't read books.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

I love the picture. The caption should read President holds up two fictional joke books.

Posted by: revbookburn | March 25, 2010 7:32 PM | Report abuse

Those are the children's books?

Posted by: Akger117 | March 25, 2010 7:42 PM | Report abuse

I love Prairie Lights.

Posted by: DavidH3 | March 25, 2010 7:47 PM | Report abuse

Remember all the bookstores Bush went into ... oh wait. Bush didn't read books.

Posted by: thebobbob | March 25, 2010 7:29 PM | Report abuse

Who do you think the POP UP BOOKS were for??


Posted by: racerdoc | March 25, 2010 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I think this shows that President Obama is not afraid to read his detractors' books, and is smart by staying on top of their views and delving into their personal stories.

Posted by: tootsie11 | March 25, 2010 8:01 PM | Report abuse

Obama will do anything to get attention and get his picture taken.

What a joke.

Posted by: OldHippie | March 25, 2010 8:07 PM | Report abuse

People who are good at campaigns aren't good at governing. David the new new Rove. He got a hair job and head job is getting a book deal.

Posted by: tossnokia | March 25, 2010 8:09 PM | Report abuse

He's going to use Rove's book to paper his daughters bird cages in the WH...

Posted by: demtse | March 25, 2010 8:12 PM | Report abuse

Oh yes, never forget the Architurd when talking about misinformation. Do the math, just do the math..

Posted by: truthhurts | March 25, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

i think obama got those books for himself he did not read the stimulus bill, the health care bill, or the cap or tax bill. or the us constitution or the bill of rights. im sure he got the books so he could look at the nice pictures

Posted by: getsix1 | March 25, 2010 8:17 PM | Report abuse

BOOKS? I KNEW he was a far-lefty! Why can't he get his facts from Fox and the internet like ALL the rest of us?!!

Posted by: OldWarDog | March 25, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

"Obama was on friendly soil in Iowa City, a university town and Democratic stronghold. “

why in Iowa you might ask,, Iowa City is plagued with chronic floods link here

democrats continue to reward people for poor choices,, drive a gas guzzler, cash for clunkers, cant get a job, 99 weeks of unemployment (illegals don't need the help) cant make you stupid 1% mortgage then here comes TARP,, have a baby get a welfare check, 71% of African Americans mothers are unwed, BUILD A HOUSE/CITY ON A RIVER NO PROBLEMS WE WILL BAIL YOU OUT!!

We as a country CAN NOT continue to pay for YOUR STUPID CHOICES


Posted by: robof4 | March 25, 2010 8:53 PM | Report abuse


Signed, half the dudes who had Heath Attacks after their smokes a few years back.

Just wondering: Where did all those SDS and Symbionese and Panther types go? Are they stockpiling their ammo and getting ready to repel THEM FAR-LEFTIES?

Posted by: OldWarDog | March 25, 2010 9:00 PM | Report abuse

Pretty funny. Saw the 'two children's books' thing coming though.

Posted by: gannon_dick | March 25, 2010 10:01 PM | Report abuse

Well, I hope he DID buy Rove's memoirs! Obama has a very stressful life, and he needs to read Fairy Tales once in a while!

Posted by: Maerzie | March 25, 2010 11:54 PM | Report abuse

He must love fiction! or maybe fantasy!

Posted by: Maddenuf | March 26, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

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