Obama Backs the Steelers

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Dan Rooney (R), chairman of the Pittsburgh Steelers football team, presents a jersey to Barack Obama during the campaign for the White House.

    Barack Obama has no love for Arizona. First he trounced that state's senior senator in the race for the presidency, and now he says he's rooting against the Arizona Cardinals in the Super Bowl.

    Though, he did it with more of a politician's touch.

    Obama said Thursday that he would root for Pittsburgh against the "long-suffering" and "great Cinderella story" Cardinals. His spokesman also said the president would have friends as well as a bipartisan group of lawmakers over to the White House to watch the game.

    "I have to say, you know, I wish the Cardinals the best," Obama said diplomatically. "You know, Kurt Warner is a great story, and he's closer to my age than anybody else on the field."

    But "Other than the (Chicago) Bears, the Steelers are probably the team that's closest to my heart." Obama said.

    Steelers owner Dan Rooney, a longtime Republican, endorsed Obama's presidential bid and campaigned for him. During Oval Office remarks, Obama noted that one of the Steelers most beloved former players, Franco Harris, had campaigned for him in Pittsburgh, too.

    Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs said the invitation to watch the Super Bowl in the White House is part of the new administration's efforts to work across the political aisle, similar to his bipartisan cocktail party Wednesday night at the executive mansion.

    "You know, the president also wanted last night to be a little bit more social, you know, so that individuals could better get to know each other and understand where they're coming from in these legislative disagreements," Gibbs told reporters Thursday. "But, again, you know, the president's outreach on this will continue."

    U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and his family were invited to the White House to watch the Super Bowl. The Pennsylvania Democrat will be rooting for the Steelers and plans on bringing Terrible Towels and Eat 'n' Park cookies in Steelers colors for the First Family, Casey spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said.

    During the pregame show, Obama also planned to participate in a live interview on NBC with Matt Lauer.

    Vice President Joe Biden, a native of Scranton, Pa., also is cheering for the Steelers. He told CNBC that he's having a Super Bowl party at the vice president's residence "with some of our Republican and Democratic friends."

    "I know you're supposed to be one of these guys that says I'm not sure," said Biden. "But I want to make clear, I'm rooting for the Steelers. Go, Mr. Rooney."