EN ROUTE, YOUNGSTOWN, OHIO — A (very) long day is soon ending, after a 5 a.m. baggage call time.
I filed four pool reports today, but the most interesting was from Pittsburgh when Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Joe Biden were greeted by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.
Here’s the pool report I filed:
As we arrived at a Pittsburgh hotel for a “60 Minutes” interview, Mike Tomlin, coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers, was waiting to greet the Democratic ticket.
Biden was first with Jill at his side; “Hey coach, I’m Joe Biden. I’m second string.”
Biden grabbed Tomlin’s wife by the arms and got real close to make a joke we couldn’t hear.
I got TV audio, which revealed some interesting exchanges with the coach.
Tomlin introduced foursome to his three children Michael, Mason and Harlynn. Mason was shy and hanging back, Obama said with hand extended: “You going to leave me hanging like this? Aw, man, that’s a shame.”
They all posed for a family picture.
“If I didn’t live in Chicago I’d be a Steelers fan,” Obama said.
“You’ve brightened what has been a miserable day,” Tomlin told Obama. “I had to cut 23 guys this morning. Hardest day of the year.”
Obama told Tomlin, “Your owner has supreme confidence in you.”
Tomlin told Obama opening day is “Next Sunday here in Pittsburgh.”
“Good luck on the season,” Obama said. “We’re very proud of you.”
Tomlin replied, “You have our support, our well wishes, our blessings and prayers.”
“I’ll be watching the games, I might even try to come to one,” Obama said.
Tomlin said, “We’re playing in DC the night before the election, but no pressure.”
Tomlin signed a football for Sam Myers Sr.
Before Obama came out, Biden told Tomlin that after his wife and daughter were killed in 1972 and his sons were hospitalized, “Old Mister Rooney” had some players from then-world champion Steelers bring an autographed football “to the hospital in Wilmington, Delaware with a signed football for my sons” as a Christmas present, “and I have been a Steelers fan since that day.”
“Not much has changed,” Tomlin said.
“They are first-class, first rate people,” Biden said.
(Biden repeated the story to Obama when he came out and they both praised the coach, an Obama backer.)
Biden relayed his convention comment on the Broncos’ 50-yard line about Heisman trophy winner Floyd Little and they all laughed.
“We’re kind of in the same business, they renew my contract every six years, yours after every game,” Biden said.
They talked ball for awhile, and Biden said optimism is “an occupational job requirement.”
Earlier today I took some video this morning of Obama and Biden greeting a group on the tarmac in Denver. It’s the first time he and Biden (along with their spouses) were on the plane together.
Here is my wrap-up from today’s paper detailing the historic moment when Obama accepted the nomination.
—Christina Bellantoni, national political reporter,
The Washington Times
Bookmark my blog at http://www.washingtontimes.com/weblogs/bellantoni