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Political Notebook

Shirtless Obama images causing stir on Internet

December 24, 2008
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Forget Barack Obama's staff making contact with a governor charged with corruption. What's got everyone talking is the president-elect's fine first form.

"Fit for office: Buff Bam is Hawaii hunk," the New York Post gushed on its cover yesterday above a photo of the future president strolling without a shirt in Hawaii. The Drudge Report called him "President Beefcake."

The photos were distributed by Bauer-Griffin, a photo agency more typically found on the corners of Hollywood. Photographer Chris Behnke simply strolled along the beach to get the shot, said agency co-owner Frank Griffin.

Obama "wasn't hiding. He was completely out in the open," Griffin said. "We didn't by any stretch of the imagination expect to get the images we got."

Griffin said Behnke had gone to the beach to get general views of the estate where Obama is vacationing, but instead found easy access to a view of the first family hitting the beach.

A spokesman traveling with Obama in Hawaii did not have immediate comment.

Obama's physique has been well exposed. Photographers snapped him body surfing in Hawaii during the campaign. He was on the November cover of Men's Health and he detailed his workouts for the magazine: 45 minutes, six days a week, alternating weights and cardio.

Even if Obama faces a plummeting economy and two wars upon entering office, he is seen as often on "Access Hollywood" as on the nightly news, and appears in "Us Weekly" with the regularity of a Jennifer Aniston.

When John F. Kennedy was pictured shirtless, there were media accounts fretting about the threshold we had crossed as a country, said David Greenberg, a professor at Rutgers University who is working on a history of political spin.

"There was John F. Kennedy by the beach, shirt off - this young, glamorous president," Greenberg said. "So in a way this is 48 years old now, that we're having this."

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama attends service in honor of grandmother
Barack Obama attended a memorial service yesterday for his grandmother, who helped raise him in his native Hawaii.

The president-elect, his family, and friends attended private services for Madelyn Payne Dunham at the First Unitarian Church in the Honolulu neighborhood of Nuuanu.

Dunham, known to friends as "Toot," died Nov. 2, two days before Obama won his election to become the nation's first African-American president. She was 86.

Obama did not speak to reporters at the small home that had been converted into a church.

The family planned to scatter Dunham's ashes at a private ceremony later. The Obamas are vacationing in Hawaii.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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