President Obama campaigns in Cincinnati. (Susan Walsh / Associated…)
President Obama is loyal to his barber and to his favorite variety of Girl Scout cookies, but Mitt Romney wants to send American jobs overseas.
Those are the dueling images presented at the president's first town hall meeting of the election season, held in Cincinnati on Monday.
Obama's question-and-answer session saw the revival of the boy-girl-boy-girl practice of calling on people, along with the first real test of it.
First, the part about Romney: In his opening remarks, Obama hit his usual stump-speech points but had a new twist on the critique of Romney as a “pioneer” in outsourcing. Romney’s plans for the future would create jobs, the president said, the only problem being “the jobs wouldn’t be in America.”
For backup, he cited a new report from Reed College economist Kimberly Clausing, who writes in the newsletter Tax Notes that Romney’s approach “would increase employment in low-tax countries by about 800,000 jobs.”
Romney isn’t the only one who supports provisions in the tax system that let American corporations operating in other countries sidestep some U.S. taxes. Members of the president’s export council do, as well.
But before long, Obama was on to talking about his barber as a result of an unprecedented challenge to his method of taking questions at town hall meetings. It was a woman’s turn, and Obama called on a woman who tried repeatedly to pose a question she acknowledged was from her husband.
“That is what's called a bait-and-switch!” Obama said, before finally agreeing to take the question from the woman’s husband, and then moving on to call on two women in a row.
The husband, a barber named Tony White, asked whether he could cut Obama’s hair, to which the president gave a blunt, “No.”
“You would not want a president who was disloyal to his barber,” Obama said. “I mean, a man and his barber, that's a -- that's a strong connection.”
That connection is so tight that the Chicago barber who goes by the name “Zariff” has even flown out to D.C. to cut the president’s hair.
Obama is equally loyal to Thin Mints, which he told a young Girl Scout in the crowd was his favorite.
He got some pushback from a crowd member who strongly preferred one of the two peanut-butter varieties, but Obama held fast.
“Peanut butter is quite good too,” Obama said. “I'm going with the mint.”
With his position on the haircut and the cookie issues settled, Obama was set to head back to Washington for the night.
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