SANDUSKY, Ohio — President Barack Obama took an unscheduled lunch stop with former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland on the first day of his bus tour in Oak Harbor, Ohio.
“All right, I’m going to eat my burger,” Obama told diners according to the pool report after shaking hands, “and everybody just pretend like I’m not here.”
Here’s the pool report:
The motorcade pulled into Kozy Corners, a cash-only local diner with square tables(daily specials starting at $4.65). In the parking lot outside, Obama knelt to speak to a young boy with spiky blue-tipped hair.
“I like that hair, man. I was thinking of getting some hair just like it,” Obama said, touching the boy’s head. “What do you put in there to make it spiky? Product?”
The boy looked spell-bound until, prompted by his parents, shook the president’s hand.
Later, the president walked into the restaurant, shaking hands and taking pictures. As he entered the dining room, accompanied by former Gov. Ted Strickland, he waved and was applauded by a crowd of between 50 and 75 (capacity of the dining room is 85 but not every seat was taken).
Obama greeted several elderly customers first, asking them how long they’ve been married and what their secrets were for looking so young.
A waitress carrying a shrimp basket approached the president. “Are those for me?” he asked with a grin.
Nearby, a fourth-grade girl, Sydney, showed Obama her sketchbook. “You’re very talented,” he said, flipping through the pages of drawings. “You’re a very well spoken young lady.” He inscribed it “Dream big dreams.”
At the next table, he cradled a baby, telling the parents it reminded him of the baby of his brother-in-law.
“Just do whatever she tells you to,” he said to a man and his wife at the neighboring table, when they swapped stories about how to maintain a good marriage.
At the next table, Obama stopped to talk to five white-haired women, who told they were part of a regular pinochle game for several decades.
“Tell the truth, the national press is here,” the president said. “Are you playing for money?”
The ladies laughed and demurred, before confessing they might play for “a dollar or a quarter.
“I’m not going to take you on, especially now that I know you play for money,” he said with a laugh.
Next up was a man in a Tarheel hat and T-shirt. Obama asked him why he wearing that “get-up” in Buckeye country.
Finally, the president stopped to talk to Kim Weis, an emergency-room nurse at Magruder Hospital who told him she was a grandmother. Obama told she looked too young to be a grandmother.
“Let me tell you, first of all. I love nurses,” Obama said. “Can I tell you. You look great. This is a good looking woman.”
At that point, a little boy asked him to sign a dollar bill, and he explained that it’s illegal to sign U.S. government tender.
The boy then told him he went to Disney World on vacation and Obama asked which was his favorite ride. Answer: Goofy’s rollercoaster.
A waitress then brought the president a tray with cheeseburger, fries, and a tall iced tea. He sat down at the table in the center of the room with Gov. Strickland.
“All right, I’m going to eat my burger,” he said to the other diners, “and everybody just pretend like I’m not here.”
A few cheers of “Four more years!” broke out.
The reception he got was warm and friendly, though Traci Riechman, who works for the Ottawa County Juvenile Court, said she was not sure whether Obama would win the vote in the town.
“We have a lot of houses for sale,” she said. “It’s just a tough time here in Oak Harbor. I don’t know if the community will be positive or negative.”
President Obama was not the only visitor who drew gapes. Two girls were talking to each as Press Secretary Jay Carney entered a side door.
After a reporter confirmed Carney’s identity, one girl, Julia Konieczny, 19, a grand-daughter of the restaurant’s owners, told her friend, “Told you it was Jay Carney because he has adorable glasses.”