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President Obama talks...NASCAR

August 19, 2009 |  4:21 pm

Obama_240 It's great when our U.S. presidents make themselves available to the media, all media. But, really, does a president need to be questioned by an ESPN reporter about NASCAR?

Wednesday afternoon President Obama appeared live on the ESPN2 show "NASCAR Now." The show originated from the White House because three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson was being honored for, well, being a NASCAR champion, on the South Lawn of the White House.

"NASCAR Now" host Nicole Manske and talented analyst Brad Daugherty grilled our president about who might win the Sprint Cup championship this year and what he thought about Johnson. We were rewarded with a penetrating answer to that question that included the quote: "He looks like a pretty young guy." Johnson will be 34 next month so he's not technically that young in the sport. But our president doesn't really need to know the ages of race car drivers, though his researchers might have prepped him.

But if our president is going to allow two reporters to ask seven consecutive questions (the followup question(s) is a luxury any White House reporter would love to have and almost never gets) about something and appear on our largest all-sports cable network live during a working day, one would have hoped said president would have maybe had first-hand experience with said sport.

Here is the last probing question the "NASCAR Now" panel asked:

"When are we going to get you to a race?"

The answer:

"I would love to do it. I was supposed to do it during the campaign but we just ended up having to travel too much and we weren't able to devote the amount of time that I wanted to. Hopefully sometime during my presidency I'm going to get out there."

So that seems to mean President Obama hasn't been to a NASCAR race? Ever? If only there could have been one more followup question. Would it have been mean to ask, "So, Mr. President, you'll go to a NASCAR race when you think you might need some votes?" OK, maybe a little mean.

-- Diane Pucin

Photo: President Barack Obama and 2008 Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson at the White House today. Photo credit: Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press.

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