Red Sox, blue pols: Selfies with and without Obama
President Obama picked April Fools' Day, of all days, to honor the World Series champion Boston Red Sox at the White House. The joke was on him, though, as Big Papi tweeted a cellphone photo of himself with the President, which turned out to be a marketing gimmick for Samsung, with which the slugger had recently signed an endorsement contract. It was not the only joke played at the White House that day. New Hampshire voters were tricked, too.
Invited to the White House was the entire New England delegation to Congress. New Hampshire Reps. Carol Shea-Porter and Ann Kuster and Sens. Jeanne Shaheen and Kelly Ayotte were there to welcome the team and bask in its reflected glory. Cellphone photos were being snapped all over, and every politician who could manage to snag one with a Red Sox player was posting it on social media. This included Ayotte, Shaheen and Shea-Porter. For New England politicians, there is no greater brand association than to be connected in voters' minds with the Red Sox.
Amid all of the photo taking, one would assume that President Obama would find himself in a photo with one of New Hampshire's three Democratic members of Congress. They are all Democrats, all in a festive mood, all celebrating the Red Sox. Players were releasing photos of themselves with the President. He was there, smiling and having a grand time. But he did not manage to get a photo with Kuster, Shea-Porter or Shaheen, whom he recently called a "great senator."
No, Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster avoided President Obama as carefully as they might avoid Derek Jeter. Or maybe Joe Biden.
On March 25, Vice President Biden visited Nashua. The official reason for his visit was to promote on-the-job training. The real reason was to raise money for New Hampshire Democrats. Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster all found reasons not to attend the event. Gov. Maggie Hassan was there. But only weeks earlier she too found an excuse to avoid being in the same room with President Obama when he invited all New England Democratic governors to Connecticut to promote a minimum wage increase. She chose to do a photo-op at a Bedford grocery store instead.
It is not that New Hampshire's Democrats do not support President Obama. According to Congressional Quarterly, Kuster has voted with Obama 87 percent of the time, Shea-Porter has voted with him 89 percent of the time, and Shaheen's record is a stunning 99 percent. They support Obama with vigor and enthusiasm. They just don't want voters to see that support helpfully illustrated with a photograph.