By M.D. Kittle | Wisconsin Reporter
MADISON — It was a quip, a jibe from an unrepentant Chicago Bears fan.
“I generally don’t interact with Packers — except when I’m in Wisconsin,” the president joked , according to a tweet from Bloomberg reporter Margaret Talev, who is embedded with the Obama campaign.
The problem, Republicans say, is Obama has kept his distance from Packer Land, during the heat of the presidential campaign season.
“President Obama is attacking the Packers and flying over the state? What’s next, preferring French cheese and Stella Artois?” said Nicole Tieman, spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee in Wisconsin.
It was as lighthearted a dig as this divisive presidential campaign can muster, where everything seemingly is politics — including the Packers-Bears rivalry.
But Obama’s conspicuous absence from Wisconsin has been criticized by Republicans and Democrats alike.
The president opted to skip out on campaigning for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Democratic candidate in the June recall election targeting Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Barrett lost the contest by 7 percentage points.
Obama sent Barrett a good-luck tweet the night before.
“It’s Election Day in Wisconsin tomorrow, and I’m standing by Tom Barrett. He’d make an outstanding governor. -bo,” Obama tweeted.
Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the president made “clear his support for Tom Barrett.”
He just did so hundreds of miles away, apparently.
Well, not that far, really.
The president appeared at campaign stops and fundraisers in Minneapolis and Chicago the Friday before the recall election, staying at his Chicago home before flying back to Washington, D.C.
Obama later told WBAY Green Bay, a CBS affiliate, that he was busy and has “a lot of responsibilities” and “would have loved to see a different result,” in the recall election.
The Obama campaign could not be reached for comment for this story.
Obama, a Bears fan, has reveled in some good-natured ribbing of the Packers over the years.
When the Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers paid a call on the president at the White House, Obama joked that the get-together with the team that beat his Bears to advance to the big game “hurts a little bit.”
“This is a hard thing for a Bears fan to do. It doesn’t hurt as much as the NFC championship game hurt, but it still hurts,” Obama said.
The Packers even presented the president with a share of the team’s publicly traded stock, making Obama part owner of the hated Green and Gold.
With Wisconsin widely considered in play in what could be a narrowly contested presidential election, Obama may want to consider donning an Aaron Rodgers jersey. At the very least, Republicans assert, making a Packer Land campaign stop.
Until November, politics is a full contact sport.
Contact M.D. Kittle at mkittle@WisconsinReporter.com.