PITTSBURGH -- So Barack Obama in recent days has sometimes dispensed with his opening acts, typically some parade of local pols and struggling voters with poignant tales of jobs lost, health care cut, and economic security evaporated.
Yet this afternoon in Pittsburgh, one lucky man made the cut: Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, an early supporter who pitched Obama today as a president who will "once again lead the country with the dignity and respect" that he said the American people deserved.
Was the brief speaking slot a reward for Rooney having lent his name to Obama early? Perhaps in part. But it also reflected an onogoing strategy by Obama's campaign to target Pennsylvania voters -- in particular, white men -- by meeting them on comfortable terrain: sports.
Obama got just the visage he wanted when Rooney presented him with a Steelers uniform -- No. 08, of course -- with "OBAMA" on the back. Obama smiled broadly as he held it up for the thousands in the Mellon Arena to see.
Rooney said he had wanted to give Obama something special, but he feared the Steelers' response if he asked Obama to put it on. "They'll draft him," he said.
Continuing with the sports theme a little further, Obama, in praising Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, called him "one of the best governors in the country, even though he's an Eagles fan." (Boos.)
"But we love him anyway," Obama said.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.