Power Players

Obama hugs, Biden over-kisses, and other political games on the campaign trail

Amy Walter
Power Players

Politically Foul

In politics, just like sport, it all boils down to who does it better. And often, there is a clear winner.

When President Obama stopped by a pizza joint in the battleground state of Florida Sunday, restaurant owner Scott Van Duzer swept Obama off his feet. Literally. The hulking pizza man lifted the president off the ground in a bear hug.

A couple days later, former Republican Florida Governor Charlie Crist, a man best known for awkward hugs, stopped by the same restaurant to get his own embrace from the pizza guy.

Crist wants back into Florida politics, it's the worst kept secret in that state. But copying a big Obama moment isn't helping the Republican-turned-Independent-turned-Obama supporter prove that he's more than just a political opportunist.

Out on the presidential trail, Mitt Romney was roundly criticized for seemingly embracing birther theories last month in Michigan.

"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know where I was born and raised," the presidential hopeful told supporters.

The Obama campaign called foul, and said that kind of rhetoric was hitting below the belt. But then their candidate did it himself, while campaigning in Florida.

"You were born in Hawaii?" Obama asked a young boy in an Orlando sports bar, who in turn told the president he was born on the Hawaiian island of Kauai.

"Do you have birth certificate?," quipped the president.

If the actual president can joke about something, you cannot call your opponent un-presidential when he does the same thing.

Maybe this president should be more concerned with his elementary school diploma.

"We can create a million new manufacturing jobs in the next four years, because we're selling goods around the world stamped with three proud words: Made in the USA," Obama told supporters in Kissimmee, Fla., last week.

Let's count that out Made. In. The. U.S.A. In politics, apparently, three can equal four.

Finally, public displays of affection on the campaign trail don't always end with the hugs. Presidential candidates have been known to plant a smooch on a babe or two. But someone should tell Joe Biden the whole kissing thing, has its limits. The vice president planted kisses on women in Ohio, including one smack on the mouth of one supporter.

Politics is all about reaching out to voters. But, reaching out is sometimes as far as it should go.

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